The idea of vaccine passports isn’t a fancy, new post-Covid concept. Small pox vaccine passports were introduced to the U.S. in the 1800’s, and vaccination records of MMR and other inoculations are required to enroll children into day cares, schools, summer camps etc.
When it was first floated that Covid vaccine passports could be used to safely restart travel or any sort of event that makes social distancing impossible, many countries jumped at the chance to protect their citizens and get back to a “new normal”.
The White House, however, announced they would not create a federal mandate for vaccine passports, rather leaving it to each state to decide if they will participate or not.
So far, most have decided not.
Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis is one of the most outspoken representatives who is against vaccine passports. DeSantis has threatened to take executive, emergency action to block vaccine passports in the state calling the idea “completely unacceptable.”
This would stop any of Florida’s theme parks and other private sectors from imposing vaccine passports, and DeSantis is trying to extend this to the cruising industry which just may backfire, with Lines like Norwegian Cruise Line threatening to leave the state. Most cruise ships are currently only allowing vaccinated guests on board their vessels.
Montana Governor. Greg Gianforte is taking a similar stance. Gianforte issued an executive order last month banning the use of vaccine passports in his state.
Governors of Texas, Idaho and Utah have all banned government entities from requiring vaccine passports in order for their states’ citizens to receive public services or access facilities, however private companies can still require them.
Arguments from governors opposed to the vaccine passports are all centered around the belief that the passports “would create different classes of citizens”, “restrict the free flow of commerce”, “violate patient privacy” and the big one: “threaten personal freedoms.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii is currently working on a Safe Travel vaccine passport. It was hoped the vaccine passport would be in effect in May, allowing vaccinated travelers to skip current testing and quarantine protocols. Currently the state is working with two private companies to get the program up and running.
New York is the first state to offer a vaccine passport, the Excelsior Pass.
The Excelsior Pass can be used by New Yorkers who received their second shot at least two weeks prior and is also extended temporarily to those in possession of a negative PCR test administered in New York within three days or a negative antigen test in New York in the previous six hours.
The Excelsior Pass has so far been successfully used at large scale events at the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden.
Though its obvious the States of America are not so United on vaccine passports, those who want to travel internationally may just have to concede as proof of vaccination is quickly becoming a requirement for entry into many countries or their top sites.