Please Don’t Compare Vaccine Passports to the Holocaust

Yes, this is a thing people are doing, and no, it's really not okay.

Another week, another round of people comparing things to the Holocaust that are not, indeed, the Holocaust. This time, it’s in reference to vaccine passports. Vaccine passports, for those unfamiliar, are a way for people to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. Yet, for some people, including conservative politicians, vaccine passports are somehow equivalent to the ways in which Jewish people were abused and discriminated against during the Holocaust.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

What are vaccine passports?

Vaccine passports are, simply, digital proof that you have received vaccination against COVID-19, with the hopes that this will allow for a safer re-entry into public life. The Biden administration has said there will be no federal vaccine passport; Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, said, “There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

In the U.S., it will be up to the states. New York State, for example, launched the “Excelsior Pass,” a mobile app that verifies you’ve been vaccinated. The state explains it thusly:  “Attend sporting events, arts performances and more! Excelsior Pass supports a safe reopening of New York by providing a free, fast and secure way to present digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.”

Meanwhile in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott banned vaccine passports, saying, “Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives.”

It’s not just the U.S. that has these proof of vaccination documents. Israel, which began fully reopening last month, has a “Green Pass,”  a digital document for your phone that allows vaccinated citizens to show proof of vaccination before attending concerts, eating in restaurants, and so on. As Isabel Kershner wrote for The New York Times, however, “enforcement is spotty.”

So how are people comparing them to the Holocaust?

It seems that many on Twitter see “vaccine passport” and think “Nazis,” comparing the proof of vaccination to the compulsory yellow star Jews had to wear in Nazi Germany.

Case in point:

This is reminiscent of those who also compared their lockdown/quarantine experience to Anne Frank. (Say it with us: No, your quarantine is not comparable to Anne Frank’s experience during the Holocaust.)

Oh boy.

Oh boy is right.

We feel the need to remind you, again, that downloading an app like a vaccine passport is completely optional, and has not been mandated anywhere. It’s also worth noting that proof of receiving certain vaccinations has long been a requirement for places like public schools and for travel to particular countries.

It’s also important to remember what the yellow star badges of the Holocaust actually were. As the United States Holocaust Museum writes, “The Nazis in Germany and throughout German-occupied Europe implemented the yellow star as a means to publicly identify, humiliate, and isolate Jews. In many cases, this public identification and stigmatization preceded the mass deportations of Jews to ghettos and killing sites.”

No one is murdering people for refusing to show proof of vaccination. There’s no “slippery slope,” as many conservatives are trying to imply, from vaccine passports to mass murder. In fact, the entire purpose of something like a vaccine purpose is to preserve life, making it safer for everyone attending public spaces and events while avoiding the potentially fatal consequences of a COVID-19 infection.

The logic is simply not there.

What has the reaction to those comparisons been?

Jews are upset, to put it lightly, by the invoking of the Holocaust to vaccinations.

The Auschwitz Memorial tweeted, “Instrumentalization of the tragedy of Jews who suffered, were humiliated, marked with a yellow star, and finally isolated in ghettos and murdered during the Holocaust in a debate about vaccines that save human lives is disrespectful to victims & a sad symptom of moral decline.”

Jewish celebrity Seth Rogen put it more bluntly, replying to the Libertarian Party of Kentucky’s tweet with, “Fuck right off with this shit.”

Vaccine passports are not equivalent to yellow stars, many are stating:

This is “life saving,” not “life threatening”:


Stop comparing vaccine passports to the compulsory yellow stars Jews were forced to wear during Nazi Germany. They are not the same.

Read More