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Vaccine passports could come soon. Here’s how they’d work

‘Vaccine passports’ may be developed. But there’s been a lot of negative feedback against them

The shadowy side of contradictory vaccine approvals and the concerning implications.
A look at a vaccine passport.
Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

President Joe Biden’s administration and private companies have started to think about creating new vaccine passports — or credentials that would allow Americans to prove they’ve been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, The Washington Post reports.

  • Biden’s team suggests the passports will allow businesses and events — like concerts and cruise lines — to reopen safely since they can require proof of vaccination, according to The Washington Post.

Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said in a White House briefing that the goal is to ensure people remain safe.

  • “Our role is to help ensure that any solutions in this area should be simple, free, open source, accessible to people both digitally and on paper, and designed from the start to protect people’s privacy,” Zients said.

What will vaccine passports be like?

Per The Washington Post, the vaccine passports would be free and be available through smartphones.

  • The passports would “display a scannable code similar to an airline boarding pass. Americans without smartphone access should be able to print out the passports, developers have said,” per The Washington Post.

No new updates about the potential vaccine passports have been revealed.

Any negative reaction to vaccine passports?

Former Michigan Rep. Justin Amash criticized the idea, saying that the idea is “dystopian.”

  • “No vaccine passport. It doesn’t get much more dystopian than being required to show your ‘health papers’ wherever you go,” he tweeted.

Amash later tweeted that it’s not something we already do.

  • “It’s not proof of vaccination for internat’l travel or schooling. It’s proof of vaccination for everyday living — groceries, restaurants, movies. It’s disingenuous to conflate the former with the latter.”
  • Amash said that the passport idea “even one privately managed — will have exceedingly negative consequences for society. I also don’t believe the government will stay out of it; nor do I believe they’ll stop at COVID or vaccinations.”

Meanwhile, Republican Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said the passport is “Biden’s Mark of the Beast” and that companies who engage with it are involving themselves in “corporate communism.”

Does anyone else have vaccine passports yet?

The European Union has considered adding a new “digital green certificate” that would be proof of vaccination for people there, CNBC reports.

  • However, it would create data privacy questions for regulators since people would be handling their medical information — in this case, vaccination records — to a tech company.

Which companies will develop vaccine passports first?

Per CNBC, there are a few companies working on vaccine passport apps.

  • These companies include IBM — who is working with New York state to create a digital health pass.
  • Apple and Google have previously created apps for contact tracing for COVID-19, so it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility they’d make another.