Why ‘vaccine passports’ may cause concerns moving forward

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — The future for COVID-19 vaccine passport requirements have been up in the air since the federal government announced they are leaving the decision up to the private sector.

Senior Advisor of the White House COVID response team Andy Slavitt said in a briefing that the it isn’t the federal government’s role to create a so-called vaccine passport.

“The government here is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of citizens,” he said.

What this means is both businesses and individuals are given the right to choose whether proof of vaccinations are required or not.

“One of my big concerns is we end up with a patchwork among the different states,” said Covenant Health Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Lawrence Martinelli. “Most of us like to travel and rules are different everywhere we go.”

On Tuesday April 6, Governor Greg Abbott banned state agencies from creating a passport requirement in Texas; however according to the Centers for Disease Control, it is encouraged for travel.

“The CDC came out with new guidelines that, if you are fully vaccinated, you can travel safely within the United States and [do] not need to be tested before travel, [and] you don’t have to self quarantine,” said Dr. Ron Cook with Lubbock Health Authority.

So far the proof is in a piece of paper provided by the CDC, but experts said that could change as developments continue to make the vaccine card more accessible.

“You have the whole concern around the security and privacy of the digital forms,” said Dr. Martinelli. “And the concern [is], if we make it digital, is it an inequity for those who don’t have a smartphone or can’t access that technology?”

The Biden Administration said they believe vaccine passports will need to meet a specific criteria to ease the various concerns. The criteria includes equal access, privacy, security, as well as an ability to serve multiple languages.

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