Vaccine passports in California?

Now that more than 7.5 million Californians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Newsom administration has set a goal of reopening the state’s economy by June 15. So what does the state plan to do when it comes to proving that people are vaccinated?

State health officials said Tuesday that verification of immunization or testing may be required before some large events are allowed. But so far, they haven’t issued any guidelines or advice for businesses on how to do that.

A theater, for example, could create a section of vaccinated people who may sit shoulder to shoulder for a performance, while requiring unvaccinated people to socially distance in a separate section. 

A convention center could hold a conference for more than 5,000 people — but only if it establishes that everyone has been vaccinated or tested, according to a state order.

How will those venues verify who’s vaccinated and who isn’t? And what about travel? Public health experts, regulators and businesses are wrestling — in a highly politicized environment — with logistical, ethical and legal questions about how and whether to verify COVID immunization status. 

For now, California has no plans to create a statewide vaccine passport or other credential. But private businesses, especially airlines, could require them in the near future.

Here are answers to six questions you may have about vaccine passports. 

What is a vaccine passport, and what are their pros and cons? 

A vaccine passport or credential verifies that the person carrying it has been fully immunized against COVID-19. A related “health pass” also could verify immunization, or could confirm a negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 and some subsequent immunity. 

Supporters of vaccine passports say they can help reopen the economy more quickly, portraying them as a temporary fix needed only until enough people have been immunized to reach herd immunity. The travel industry, including airlines and cruise lines, is particularly keen to get countries to ease restrictions on international travel and has said vaccine passports could help. 

Critics say that credentials based on health status — especially if they’re digital-only — reinforce racial and economic inequities already seen throughout the pandemic and raise civil liberties and privacy concerns. 

The U.S. debate over vaccine passports has a distinctly partisan tinge, with many conservatives decrying them as government overreach. 

Does the U.S. government require any kind of vaccine passport? What about other countries?

No. White House officials have said repeatedly that the federal government will not create any kind of national vaccine passport. There is no federal mandate to be immunized against COVID-19. 

However, federal officials are working with private companies to create privacy and equity standards for private passports that are now being developed, the Washington Post recently reported

Other countries or regions are planning or already have developed national vaccine passports or health passes, including Israel, China, Japan and the European Union. Some of these countries are linking the digital passports to their national health care systems or immunization registries. 

Requiring proof of vaccination for travel isn’t new: A number of countries mandate yellow fever or other vaccinations for incoming international travelers, and the United States requires numerous vaccinations for new immigrants.

Will California require any kind of vaccine passport? 

California’s top health official, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said Tuesday that the state has no plans to develop its own vaccine passport.

Despite this, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, a Republican from Rocklin, tweeted Tuesday that he plans to draft legislation “to stop the madness of vaccine passports before it starts.”

However, the state also sent some mixed messages: Businesses by June 15 “may return to usual operations…with limited public health restrictions, such as….testing or vaccination verification requirements for large-scale higher-risk events,” according to the state’s announcement.

In addition, the state would specifically require conventions of more than 5,000 people to verify attendees’ vaccination or negative COVID test status. “Unless testing or vaccination status is verified for all attendees, conventions will be capped at 5,000 persons until October 1,” according to the state order.

Ghaly said state officials will monitor private sector development of passports for privacy, equity and fairness.  …

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  1. JimNorCal says

    I don’t get it.
    Vaccinate those who want it.
    Let people who are fearful continue to shelter in place.
    Allow businesses to forehead scan customers to check for high temperatures.
    Anyone who wants a mask or plexiglass face screen can wear one.

    Then open it up.
    C’mon man, is that so hard?

  2. Carla Virga says

    Nazis forced Jews to sit in separate sections.
    Democrats forced Negroes to sit in separate sections.
    Nazis and Democrats united are repeating history tenfold.

  3. Its experimental vaccine, no way to.know long term effects number of deaths from. Same causes, everyone acting like its been approved, see what happens in another 2 to 3 yrs with the software for life installed in people who are now owned by gates and fauci

  4. mark d young says

    Right now in Canada its the vaccinated people getting sick with a new strain so who says
    they work anyway ?

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