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What is a vaccine passport? Your Covid-19 travel questions answered



Like a national passport, a vaccine passport could give the holder access to a place like a crowded concert or a foreign country that requires proof of vaccination in addition to a visa and a valid national passport.

Vaccination cards from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are not exactly the same as a vaccine passport. Although they are an overview of what vaccine a person received and when, they can be easily thrown away.

A vaccine passport is only proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19. It can be in the form of a smartphone app or a written certificate for those who do not have smartphones.

Some health experts argue that such evidence of vaccination may be the ticket back to normalcy. It could reward people for being vaccinated by letting them into a crowded concert or ball game and offering them peace of mind that the person next to them has also been vaccinated ̵

1; thus helping to make crowded places more ensure.

New York was the first state to issue a digital vaccine passport using IBM’s Excelsior Pass app, which displays a personal QR code confirming vaccine status. The state tested the app on a Brooklyn Nets basketball game and a New York Rangers hockey game last month.

But critics point to confidentiality and government overreach.
Florida Governor Bans Covid-19 'Vaccine Pass'
The governors of Florida and Texas have signed decrees banning vaccine passports. The government of Florida, Ron DeSantis, last week signed a decree banning any public entity from issuing them and companies from demanding them from their customers.

He cited personal freedom and privacy issues.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this week signed an order banning state agencies from requiring a vaccine for any service.

“The government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and disclose private health information just to go about their daily lives,” Abbott said in a video posted on Twitter.

Who issues vaccine passports?

There is a lot of talk and debate about the passports, but almost no one issues them yet – even though they are available in New York for vaccinated residents.

While the Biden administration has been trying to find a way toward a standard of vaccine certification, the federal government will not issue a vaccine passport, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

“The government does not support it now, nor will we support a system that requires Americans to have credentials,” Psaki said during a news briefing. “There will be no federal vaccination database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to receive a single vaccination certificate.”

The Vaccination Credential Initiative – a coalition of technology and healthcare companies, including Microsoft and the Mayo Clinic – was founded just to get some sort of verification process off the ground.
What Scattered Vaccination Records Mean for Covid-19 Immunity 'Passports'

“VCI’s vision is to enable individuals to have an encrypted digital copy of their immunization information stored in a digital wallet of their choice,” the group said in a January press release announcing the founding. “Those without smartphones could receive paper printed with QR codes containing W3C-verifiable credentials.”

Like it or not, people who want to travel abroad may soon be required to have a vaccine passport to enter certain countries, or it may help them avoid quarantine when they arrive.

Israel has already introduced a vaccine passport that allows holders to go to restaurants and gyms.

Britain and the EU are considering vaccine passports, according to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, and Australia, Denmark and Sweden “have committed to implementation.”

“Although travel accessibility has been the primary focus to date, the use of passports to regulate access to social and recreational gatherings, workplaces or schools seems imminent; places such as hotels, gyms, restaurants, theaters and venues and New York’s ‘Excelsior Pass’ allow participation in theaters, arenas, venues and large weddings, “according to the article.

The ACLU warns 'a lot can go wrong' with digital vaccine passports

Advantages and disadvantages of a vaccine passport

The pros and cons of requiring a vaccine pass were encapsulated by business owners and executives in Florida, where the passes have been banned.

Rocco Mangel, who owns Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar in Delray Beach, said he has been vaccinated and wants others to be too, but demands that his customers have proof of vaccination to enter the restaurant “violates their rights, “he told CNN.

“I think you would actually have people being offended and there would be a perception that we are trying to control them,” Mangel said.

But Judy Lisi, executive director of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida, says the governor’s ban could hurt the business.

“If you think of mass gathering places like theaters and stadiums and arenas, we sit right next to each other,” Lisi said. “So it’s going to be really important to have a vaccine program as an opportunity for our guests and for our artists.”

Critics of vaccination certificates cite confidentiality issues, Lisi said, but “do not people have the right to be safe? Do not people have the right, if they have had a vaccine, to come in and know that other people have been vaccinated as well?”

CNN’s Randi Kaye contributed to this report.




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