COVID-19 Vaccine Passports
In our world of polarizing issues, COVID-19 vaccine passports have emerged as the latest political football that has politicians taking opposite sides based on their partisan leanings, with citizens caught again in the middle.
The COVID-19 vaccine passport is a proposed system to prove people are vaccinated while traveling or attending large events like sports, concerts, and even church. As the concept of vaccine passports is making its way across the country and lawmakers are debating if Americans should have proof of inoculation, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has made his opposition known with the discussion being dead on arrival for Georgia. Kemp joins other Republican governors around the country who are lining up against this possible tool that would have every American obtain proof of COVID-19 vaccination before they can return to work, travel, or play.
COVID-19 vaccine passports for the entire country were once considered an issue that the federal government would champion, however, the Biden administration has said there will be no push by the White House to create a passport for the country. This leaves the debate to states, local governments, and the private sector as to requiring vaccination proof.
Over the past several weeks, we have seen headlines on the latest Republican led government acting against passport requirements as legislation makes its way through state legislatures seeking to ban vaccination requirements. Democrats, however, are on the opposite side of this discussion, with many in support of such a passport.
The state of New York, under a Democratic Governor, has introduced its version of the COVID-19 passport, Excelsior Pass, a program that allows people to prove their vaccination or COVID-19 status via smartphone app or printout. In Georgia, Kemp’s stated position ensures that such a program will not be created for the state. He and several other Republican Governors have threatened government agencies, private businesses, and institutions that receive state funding if they enact a passport. Those who fail to follow their directions on passports will soon find themselves illegible for continued or future state grants or contracts.
As the debate continues within the U.S., foreign countries are discussing their own systems in which proof of vaccination will be the new standard for resuming once-ordinary activities. The debate is mixed among travelers, however, some point to a passport being invaluable, especially for those engaging in international travel who could find themselves trapped outside of the U.S. because of pandemic reentry restrictions.
Each side has its talking points with those in support of a vaccine passports saying it is the safest and quickest way to reopen economies, while the other side says passports would impinge on individual rights, delay economic recoveries, and create a two-tier society that would discriminate against the unvaccinated.
Like the debate that emerged last year when we were asked to wear masks to slow the transmission of the virus, the passport debate will continue with both sides digging in.