As the situation with the global pandemic continues to develop, we’ve seen a variety of changes made and other news announced.
So far, President Biden has indicated that the U.S. could have enough vaccines for all adults by May, and has directed states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May. California and Florida have already started to announce expansions in terms of eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine, and Dr. Fauci has indicated that COVID-19 guidelines could loosen by July. And, now we’ve got an update on “vaccine passports” and what you might need to travel or participate in certain activities in the future.
According to The Washington Post, President Biden’s administration along with private companies are “working to develop a way of handling credentials…that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated” against COVID-19. This is what has often been referred to as a “vaccine passport” or what some call “vaccine credentials.” Again, as the Post notes, these would essentially allow individuals to prove they’ve been vaccinated.
In February, we shared that there was already some talk of developing vaccine passports which could be required for international travel or large-scale events. It seems now, the effort to develop vaccine passports has gained momentum as the situation with the pandemic continues to develop.
As The Washington Post reports, some officials have indicated that COVID-19 guidelines could be loosened by this summer, and now a growing number of companies have said they will require proof of vaccination before opening up again. For example, Royal Caribbean International had previously indicated that only vaccinated adults (and younger individuals with a negative COVID-19 test) would be allowed to board upcoming cruises. The situation with cruising and when it could start again from the U.S., however, continues to develop.
The U.S. isn’t alone in this vaccine passport effort though. Other countries have been working on their own passport plans. But, U.S. officials say they’re dealing with all kinds of challenges including health-care equity and data privacy. They’re trying to develop a system that Americans can use to prove they’ve been vaccinated, but also want to make sure that the system cannot be easily hacked, that they are preventing against fraud, and that any passports created cannot be easily counterfeited.
There are also a number of different passport initiatives already underway to deal with. In fact, there are apparently at least 17 different passport initiatives underway such as one led by the World Health Organization and a digital pass being created by IBM. Officials have warned about the “confusing array” of efforts that are already underway to create these passports. If the approach to the vaccine passport is too chaotic, some warn it could be ineffective.
According to some slides prepared by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, proof of vaccination may be critical, however, to “restoring baseline population health and promoting safe return to social, commercial, and leisure activities.”
Some officials have indicated that they are concerned with making sure that low-income populations aren’t squeezed out. Micky Tripathi, who was selected by President Biden as the national coordinator for Health IT, said in a recent meeting, “How do we make sure that whatever is available is accessible to everyone so no one is left behind or feeling like they can’t participate in the return of their day-to-day activities?”
Some have indicated that these vaccine credentials could also help officials understand COVID-19 vaccinations better, including potential long-term side effects, if the data is connected with some health information.
The Biden administration is expected to provide more information about its efforts relating to the vaccine passport soon.
Update: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has indicated that vaccine passports will not be required in the State of Florida. In a recent press conference, DeSantis said, “It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society.”
DeSantis also indicated that he intends to issue an executive order forbidding local governments and businesses in Florida from requiring “vaccine passports” to show that customers have been vaccinated.
In other vaccine news, we recently shared that Disney is set to offer payment to Cast Members for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
In order to qualify, vaccinations must be completed between January 1 and September 30, 2021.
You can click here to read more about the payment that is set to be offered to Cast Members for receiving the vaccine.
We’ll continue to keep an eye out for more updates on this situation and bring you the latest news. Stay tuned for more.