White House: No Covid-19 Vaccine Passports Required For Travel, General Activities In The U.S.

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The White House has dropped an important update today, saying Presidents Biden’s administration will not require or push for vaccine passports in order to participate in travel and other activities in the U.S..

Potentially requiring such documentation has already stirred a lot of controversy in the political, business and civil rights arena with many participants in this discussion threatening lawsuits.

The administration has made clear now that it doesn’t see the role of the federal government to issue or administer vaccine passports or a general, accessible database of individuals who have receive such immunization.

The White House said that it’s primary concern is to continue pushing the vaccination effort forward and that the administration mostly focused on creating guidelines that can be used as a basis for the private sector.

CBS News is reporting about it tonight:

As more and more countries like Japan, China and Denmark plan to introduce vaccine “passports” for their citizens, Americans are beginning to wonder if they, too, will have to show some sort of proof of vaccination or similar ID to travel, attend events, work or generally participate in society.

There aren’t many answers to this in the U.S., although the U.S. has vaccinated more people than any nation in the world. But the Biden administration is making one thing clear — the federal government won’t be the one issuing a vaccine credential, or storing citizens’ vaccination information in a database. 

“This is going to hit all parts of society, and so naturally, the government is involved,” Andy Slavitt, acting director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said during a White House COVID-19 briefing Monday. “But unlike other parts of the world, the government here is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of — of citizens. We view this as something that the private sector is doing and will do. What’s important to us, and we’re leading an interagency process right now to go through these details, are that some important criteria be met with these credentials.”

Should private entities develop a vaccine ID system, it will be crucial to ensure that access to credentials is equitable and accessible, no matter what technology limitations a person faces at home, said Slavitt and White House press secretary Jen Psaki, adding that it should also be private and secure. Psaki said the Biden administration is mostly focused on creating guidelines that can be used as a basis for private sector endeavors.

“We expect, as Andy Slavitt I think alluded to, that a determination or development of a vaccine passport or whatever you want to call it will be driven by the private sector,” Psaki said. “Ours will more be focused on guidelines that can be used as a basis. There are a couple key principles that we are working from: one is that there will be no centralized, universal federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential; second, we want to encourage an open marketplace with a variety of private sector companies and nonprofit coalitions developing solutions; and third, we want to drive the market toward meeting public interest goals.” …

I’m not sure where the article got the idea that Japan is planning to introduce vaccine passports as the whole vaccination effort is not very popular in Japan and constitutional protections rather comprehensive but this isn’t about Japan anyway.

It’s a relief to see that at least for the time being the U.S. government is taking a step back with this frenzy of creating a “Papers please!” environment.

The WH comments regarding the private sector still leave some space for concerns and one would hope that the government comes out with strict guidelines of what is and what isn’t acceptable in terms of restrictions and requirements for people to live their daily life.

Businesses of said “private sector” that do require prove of immunization from their customers would undoubtedly have to follow the guidelines which the staffers eluded to. The only question is how tough will these guidelines be and how are they holding up in U.S. courts.

Overall the U.S. is in a good spot with a steady supply of vaccines for those that want them thanks to their buying spree and development push back in 2020. Many countries who waited too long to secure the product or looked for the best price now find themselves on the short end of the stick. I believe that a return to what we know as normal life will be a reality much faster in the U.S. than other parts of the world.

Unfortunately we see a lot of governmental overreach these days and I think the Biden administration got it right to take a step back here.

Conclusion

The White House has dismissed the concept of a federal database and requirements of so called vaccine passports. There will be strict guidelines forthcoming for the private sector to adhere to although no timeline has been given for that.

Mind you that this decision will only affect life in the U.S. and people who want to engage in travel activity (especially internationally) will likely still be required to provide a combination of PCR test results, a vaccine card or undergo quarantine for the time being. At least in many popular international destinations even if they do open their borders eventually.

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