The idea of vaccine Passports is being welcomed by many Baby Boomers who are anxious to return to “normal” life as COVID-19 becomes less and less of a threat. But others are less than enthusiastic with the idea of being required to share personal medical information in order to travel or attend an event.
Regardless of which side of the debate you find yourself on, COVID-19 has almost certainly had a significant impact on your life. Let’s explore how the pandemic has affected baby boomers, and what the effects of vaccine passports might be.
The COVID-19 Pandemic and Baby Boomers
The effects of the pandemic have varied by generation. Many baby boomers are in an age category that is at particular risk for becoming seriously ill. Baby Boomers generally took the pandemic more seriously than Generation Z, many of whom continued to live their lives without many limitations.
Generation X is worried about their parents and took a more practical approach, for the most part. Millennials chose to stay inside and urged their parents to do so, too, according to Insider magazine. The same survey found that boomers tended to stock up on supplies, despite being told not to do so by the government and suppliers. According to Forbes, many boomers took this time to downsize and adopt a simpler lifestyle, and many took an early retirement. These generational differences in reaction to the pandemic would prompt us to believe that boomers will also react differently to vaccine passports.
What Will Boomers Do?
One of the findings of the Insider survey is that boomers do not feel their age. They resent being told that they are old, and many feel bitter about being treated as fragile by their children.
Boomers love to travel, and we can expect that some will embrace the idea of a vaccine passport if it is a requirement to get on an airplane or cruise ship but not all indicators are for a general acceptance and a return to the old idea of “normal”. From a safety perspective, it is not yet clear if boomers will be ready to travel any time soon, even if the vaccine passport allows them to do so.
Currently, recommendations are that people who have been vaccinated continue to wear masks and socially distance because it is not certain how long the vaccine will last. For boomers, this is likely to cause a bit of hesitation when it comes to simply jumping on a plane and resuming their retirement plans. In addition, the pandemic made boomers more conservative in their spending, and they are likely to continue with this pattern until there is more of a consensus that everything is safe.
What Would a Vaccine Passport Look Like?
One of the models that is being proposed for implementing vaccine passports uses an app. This app could be scanned to allow you to gain entry to concert venues, restaurants, and other activities. Only 68% of boomers own a smartphone, and only 52% own a tablet. COVID-19 has caused many boomers to embrace technology that they have resisted in the past, such as technology for conference calls with doctors and other appointments.
Of those that adopted technology for this reason, approximately 88% said that they will continue to use the technology even when the pandemic is over. This still leaves a large percentage of boomers who would have to choose to either adopt the technology to gain access to their favorite venues or find something else to do with their time.
The main concerns about the use of an app to track movements and manage the vaccine passport are over privacy and freedom of movement. For boomers, it may mean the need to embrace technology at a level that they have not done in the past. As a whole, boomers do not like the invasion of privacy that the technological world brings, which could mean some hard choices for some.
The Shocking Reality
The pandemic and arguments over vaccine passports have hit the baby boomer generation particularly hard. Even though many are entering retirement age, boomers are in much better overall health than previous generations were when they were the same age. Boomers are not willing to admit that they are becoming “elders” because many still feel young at heart.
Boomers tend to take a more conservative approach when it comes to their safety, but they also value their freedom. These two issues are the heart of the conflict that each person must weigh for themselves. Even if a majority of boomers get the vaccine, and it is expected that they will, the question is whether they will see that as a ticket to take that vacation they have always wanted, or if they will take the side of caution. The pandemic and stock market volatility have affected the retirement savings of many Boomers, and this could also affect whether they embrace the freedom that the vaccine passport offers.
One thing for certain is that the pandemic has changed the way boomers see themselves and the chances that they are willing to take. For many, it has been a reality check that they were not ready for, and vaccine passports are only one more issue that will require some serious self-reflection on whether they return to friendly skies or choose to stay at home.