Two words describe the current situation as the world battles to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic: hope and uncertainty. The good news is that there are now multiple vaccines paving the path to an eventual recovery of social and economic activity lost to the pandemic since 2020. However, it will not be an easy path due to tremendous challenges ranging from supply chain and distribution difficulties to ethical and policy-related concerns. Just recently, several European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, temporarily suspended the usage of a particular vaccine in response to safety concerns.

At Forrester, we’ve published a pair of reports focusing on how the vaccines will affect travel and the workplace, where we unbundle the associated risks and complexities and provide ideas on steps forward.

How Will The Vaccines Affect Travel?

The debate over vaccine mandates and digital “immunity passports” is a red-hot issue in the travel industry. A lack of travel eligibility would leave millions of not-at-risk travelers behind. Conducting identity checks to verify “immune” people may lead to all sorts of discrimination, fraud, ethical, and privacy threats as well as a bad travel experience. In short: Without order supported by global standards, clear guidelines, and communication, there will be no “going back to normal” anytime soon — vaccine or no vaccine. Our future-of-travel report details how travel organizations need to:

  • Focus on helping customers obtain pretravel test results in the near term.
  • Offer clear communications with actionable assistance at every part of the travel journey.
  • Mind customers’ privacy concerns related to immunization and vaccine certificates.
  • Adapt to the changing needs of business travelers, a key economic segment.
  • Always be ready for new rules and mandates that may take force.

How Will The Vaccines Affect The Workplace?

Despite the high expectations that vaccines and vaccine passports bring, employers must be cautious as they plan and execute their pandemic management plans. We advise them to make moderate — not radical — changes to their pandemic protocols at this time. They must still contend with many unanswered questions related to vaccine effectiveness, its deployment timeline, and the impact of geographical variations. As they contemplate leveraging vaccine passports for the pandemic response, employers must deal with an array of unique privacy and ethical concerns, legal and compliance considerations, and other operational risks. Specifically, organizations need to:

  • Track and understand some of the most relevant vaccine passport initiatives.
  • Determine a new timeline for their pandemic management protocols, considering the variables that will affect their risk assessments and their policies.
  • Identify, assess, and remediate the most significant risks their organizations face when introducing vaccine passports into the workplace. The list of the risks we examined includes ethical and privacy concerns, legal and compliance, and operational risks such as those to the employee and the customer experience.

For further details, please read our full reports or contact us to set up an inquiry.