Should vaccine passports be required?

WASHINGTON — Should you be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination with a so-called vaccine passport? That question is being considered by private companies and our elected leaders around the country right now.

The federal government and some state leaders have taken a strong stance against any kind of system verifying a COVID-19 vaccination status. But in the private sector many companies are now looking into digital ways to confirm a vaccination.

People are proudly posting vaccination cards on social media after getting a shot. But now there are questions about whether people should have to show that kind of proof before going back to school or attending crowded places like sporting events.

“While it surely raises questions we need to be thinking about and answering about in terms of ethics and equity, it also addresses a really significant public health concern,” Eric Feldman, University of Pennsylvania professor, said.

The Biden Administration has said vaccine passports will not be required by the federal government.

“Americans rights and privacy should be protected so that these systems are not used against people unfairly,” Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said.

Governors in Florida and Texas have preemptively signed executive orders banning potential government-required vaccine passports. But some private companies like cruise lines, airlines and stadiums are looking into ways customers can show they have been vaccinated. Some schools like Rutgers University in New Jersey will require students to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination in the upcoming semester. And in New York state officials created an app so people can show vaccination proof if they need it.

Some law experts point out that tracking certain vaccinations in this country isn’t new.

“Every state has something called an immunization information system so we already have an electronic system of tracking kids who are vaccinated,” Feldman said.

Walmart which is a large scale provider of the COVID-19 vaccine has come up with a free digital app for people who have been vaccinated there if they want to show vaccination proof.