People unvaccinated for medical reasons call out pass ‘discrimination’

Checking a coronavirus QR code. Photo:
Not everyone can get a coronavirus code: what then?  Photo:

Concerns have been raised about people who cannot have a vaccination but feel excluded from elements of society where a corona pass is necessary.

Alberto Bertipaglia, a postgraduate student at Delft University of Technology, who was hospitalised with heart inflammation after his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, told that doctors have banned him from having another shot.

But this situation means that he cannot generate a QR code or official pass to go for a coffee with friends, or to the gym, without taking an antigen test for every occasion – like someone who has chosen not to be vaccinated.

He told that he finds this an ‘extraordinary situation of discrimination’ which makes it significantly harder for him to take the regular exercise recommended for his heart condition.


‘Seven months from my reaction, I still need to pay attention to my health,’ he explained. ‘Despite this, I’m obliged to spend 20 minutes going to a Covid test centre, taking a test, and going back to work every day if I want to have an everyday life. Going to the gym is not a pleasure but it is recommended for my health condition. Moreover, taking this test means I need to be close to unvaccinated people.’

He said that he was advised by his local public health institute that he would need to test for access every time a QR code is needed for an activity, and said ‘they told me they receive a lot of calls from people in my situation.’

Other vulnerable people unable to be fully vaccinated – who number many thousands just in the Netherlands – have told the NRC that they are experiencing a ‘collective trauma’.

Some said that due to their vulnerability, they had had very little contact with the outside world for two years and looked on the press conference where restrictions were loosened with fear rather than relief.


People affected include those with severe asthma and bronchitis, those on chemotherapy and also ‘low-responders’ or ‘no-responders’ whose bodies do not produce enough antibodies to protect them even after vaccination.

Bertipaglia, who is Italian, said that in his home country he would be able to get a doctor’s letter to allow him to work, socialise and go to the gym, rather than a QR code – and, for him, this would be a practical solution. Meanwhile in the UK, for instance, people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons can simply apply for a special NHS COVID pass.

Last week, Dutch health minister Ernst Kuipers responded to MP questions posed last October about the vulnerable, saying that they could ‘test for access’ for each outing, but that the government is still ‘working on a solution for people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.’

A spokesman for the Dutch health ministry referred to these answers.

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