The face mask policies in Disney World have evolved over time, capacity levels have changed, and travel policies have developed and been revised over the last year. But, with COVID-19 vaccinations becoming more available for many people around the country, health and safety policies may be changing again as more focus starts to be given to vaccine passports.
Today, we’ll be breaking down everything we know about vaccine passports so far, and we’ll be talking about some of the big questions that you may have about the process.
What is a Vaccine Passport?
In February, we started hearing more about potential COVID-19 vaccine passports and some have recently indicated that you might need a vaccine passport to travel or participate in certain activities in the future.
So, what is a “vaccine passport?” Vaccine passports are a way for you to provide proof that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or potentially a recent negative COVID-19 test result.
So, if a business, airline, or other location asks you to prove that you have been vaccinated or recently tested negative for COVID-19, the idea is that you’d have this vaccine passport — either digitally or physically — to simply show them.
According to U.S. News & World Report, vaccine passports are not a new idea. Those who are frequent international travelers may be familiar with vaccine cards — typically yellow papers showing your vaccinations. Certain places around the world may require proof of vaccination against things like yellow fever or tuberculosis which these cards would prove.
As we’ve shared earlier, The Washington Post has reported that President Biden’s administration and some private companies are “working to develop a way of handling credentials…that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated.” This is what is now being referred to as a “vaccine passport” or “vaccine credentials.”
In January, President Biden also issued an executive order directing agencies to assess the feasibility of linking COVID-19 vaccinations to vaccine cards and making digital versions, as reported by U.S. News and World Report.
Who or What Might the Vaccine Passports Affect?
According to the New York Times, this type of passport could be used for international travel or for large-scale events (things like the Super Bowl, large concerts, etc.).
Although at first it seemed like vaccine passports might mainly be used for things like big events and international travel, it looks like the effort to develop vaccine passports has gained momentum as the pandemic continues to develop. The Washington Post reported that because some COVID-19 guidelines could be loosened by the 4th of July, a number of companies have said they will or may require proof of vaccination before opening up again.
Based on recent statements made by individuals like Dr. Anthony Fauci, there may be various private businesses or sectors that will require proof of vaccination in order to service customers. Dr. Fauci noted that there may be theaters, colleges, or other institutions that will tell individuals they cannot get in unless they provide proof of vaccination.
Several countries and certain airlines already require a negative COVID-19 test to board a plane. Negative COVID-19 tests are also required for international flights to the U.S. The idea is that the vaccine passport could be the next step in that direction.
Even though the situation regarding cruises and when they could start up again continues to change, Royal Caribbean International previously stated that only vaccinated adults (and children with a negative COVID-19 test) would be allowed on upcoming cruises. So, vaccine passports may become important for those looking to cruise again.
In short, various businesses or industries may require proof of vaccination. The vaccine passport is meant to be a way for customers to show that proof.
How Are Vaccine Passports Being Created?
According to some slides prepared by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, proof of vaccination may ultimately be critical to “restoring baseline population health and promoting safe return to social, commercial, and leisure activities.”
There are several vaccine passport projects already in progress. According to one source, there are at least 17 different vaccine passport initiatives underway — one of which is led by the World Health Organization. A digital version by IBM is also in the works. Officials have warned that if the development of these various vaccine passports are too confusing and chaotic, it could be ineffective.
In terms of the federal government’s involvement, Dr. Fauci has recently said, “I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept. They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is going to be the leading element of that.”
The United States is not the only country where work is being done on vaccine passports. But, U.S. officials have said they are dealing with several challenges including healthcare equity and data privacy. They have indicated that they want a system that Americans can use to prove their vaccination, but they also want to protect the privacy and fraud that could occur with this type of system.
Another important point to creators of the vaccine passport is that low-income populations are able to participate. President Biden’s national coordinator for Health IT, Micky Tripathi, 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?”
The Washington Post notes that there are a few options for vaccine passports already in existence and more in development.
How Might This Affect Your Next Trip to Disney World?
At the end of March, the governor of Florida commented on whether vaccine passports would be required in the state. According to WESH 2 News, Governor Ron DeSantis specifically stated, “we are not supporting doing any vaccine passports in the state of Florida.”
The governor 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” at the time in a press conference. He also emphasized that the COVID-19 vaccine would be available to all, but that there would be no mandate on it. He has disapproved of the idea of vaccine passports.
On April 2nd, he took further action on this statement and issued an executive order against vaccine passports. The order says that “No Florida government entity, or its subdivisions…shall be permitted to issue vaccine passports, vaccine passes, or other standardized documentation for the purpose of certifying an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status to a third party.”
The Executive Order goes on to state that “Businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or serve from the business.” Essentially, this means that no business in Florida can require proof of vaccination in order to enter or receive a service.
The order does not, however, restrict businesses from putting other COVID-19 health screening policies in place.
At the moment, we have not seen any official statement from Disney World about vaccine passports. For the time being, guests are not required to provide proof of vaccination in order to enter Disney World’s theme parks or hotels. But, we’ll keep an eye out for more updates.
However, it should be noted that, as the Disney World website specifies, by entering Disney World you are confirming that you and all members of your party are not experiencing any of the listed symptoms of COVID-19, have not been in contact with someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 symptoms without completing a 14-day quarantine, and are not under any self-quarantine orders. If you cannot confirm that, you must NOT enter Walt Disney World Resort.
Also, if at any point during your trip you don’t meet that criteria, you and your traveling party will be required to isolate and may be relocated or asked to leave Disney World.
Will Vaccine Passports Be Required By the Federal Government?
The most recent news about vaccine passports includes a statement from Dr. Anthony Fauci and whether he thinks these passports will be required by the federal government.
During a recent podcast, the interviewer asked Dr. Fauci if vaccine passports would be necessary to safely get things like concerts, schools, gyms, and more back to normal. They also asked whether Dr. Fauci thinks that the federal government should be playing an active role in coordinating something like vaccine passports and where they are required.
“I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept. They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is going to be the leading element of that,” Dr. Fauci responded. He believes that individual entities will be the ones really involved when it comes to vaccine passports.
Dr. Fauci mentioned that there may be theaters, colleges, or other locations that tell individuals they cannot get in unless they provide proof of vaccination. He also noted that he’s not saying whether these entities should or that they would do that, but he said you could foresee how an independent entity might require individuals to show proof of vaccination.
Still, Dr. Fauci made it clear that vaccine passports are “not going to be mandated from the federal government.”
And that’s everything we know about the vaccine passports so far. But, keep in mind that the situation with vaccine passports, just like the situation with the pandemic in general, is subject to change. When more information is dropped about vaccine passports, we’ll be sure to let you know. And as health and safety measures continue to evolve over time, we’ll keep you updated on the latest news that could impact your Disney World vacation.