The federal government won’t be mandating so-called coronavirus “vaccine passports” — proof that one has been vaccinated against COVID-19 — for travelers or businesses after the pandemic is over, according to the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
“I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, who also serves as President Biden’s chief medical adviser, told the Politico Dispatch podcast on Monday.
“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,” he added.
Some argue that mandating vaccine passports could speed the re-opening of international travel. But the issue of vaccine passports is complicated and has been hotly debated around the world, raising questions about how much governments, employers and venues have a right to know about a person’s virus status.
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In the U.K., for example, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday confirmed the government will test out a “vaccine passport” system as a tool to help travel and large events return safely.
In the U.S., the issue has become largely partisan. Republicans are largely against the concept. Two Ohio state legislators, for instance, recently told Fox News that they are planning to introduce a bill that will preemptively ban vaccine passports over concerns about privacy and government overreach.
Rep. Al Cutrona, a Republican who represents parts of eastern Ohio, said vaccine passports mandated by the government would create “privacy concerns that should be startling to anyone.”
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“I want to make sure that we put a stop on this from the government,” Rep. Cutrona, who runs an infectious disease medical practice in Ohio, said. “It’s a false sense of security, a false sense of normalcy, and frankly, I think it’s a very slippery slope that we’re heading down.”
Separately, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on Friday banning the use of vaccine passports in the state.
Meanwhile, New York became the first state to roll out a digital vaccine passport when it recently launched the so-called “Excelsior Pass.”
“As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said of the vaccine passport rollout.
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Still, some private businesses and organizations may look at developing ways to confirm that someone is vaccinated. Fauci spoke to this during his appearance on the Politico Dispatch podcast, noting that businesses or schools may require them to enter their buildings.
“I’m not saying that they should or that they would, but I’m saying you could foresee how an independent entity might say, ‘well, we can’t be dealing with you unless we know you’re vaccinated,’ but it’s not going to be mandated from the federal government,” he said.
Fox News’ Paul Best and the Associated Press contributed to this report.