Biden administration announces they will not require Americans to carry COVID-19 passports

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that the federal government will not require Americans to carry proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status to travel and attend events. 

At a news conference, she told reporters that “The government is not now and nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential” and said that there “will be no federal vaccinations database, no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.” However, some private companies have already expressed their interest in similar schemes, with Andy Slavitt who is acting director of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services acknowledging this. Psaki did reiterate this point on Tuesday, saying “That’s where the idea originated, and we expect that’s where it’ll be concluded,” adding that “As these tools are being considered by the private and non-profit sectors, our interest is very simple, from the federal government, which is Americans’ privacy and rights should be protected, so that these systems are not used to treat people unfairly.” She went on to say that the White House is planning to issue guidance related to vaccination credentials “soon.”

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Currently in the U.S, there are at least 17 different initiatives headed by companies and non-governmental organisations to create a form of vaccine credential. Dr. Anthony Fauci also said that the Biden administration will not mandate their use. Fauci who was a guest on the POLITICO Dispatch podcast on Monday told host Jeremy Siegel that “it’s not gonna be mandated from the federal government,” but instead he “could foresee how an independent entity might say ‘Well, we can’t be dealing with you unless we know you’re vaccinated.’”

Some states including Texas and Florida have already ruled out using vaccine passports because it would violate personal freedoms. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that “Texans shouldn’t be required to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives.” Donald Trump Jr also tweeted that “If you’re a Republican in office and you’re not vocally and aggressively opposing ‘vaccine passports’ it may be time to find a different career.” With the rapid increase of demand surrounding vaccines, governments around the world are under increasing pressure to allow those who are inoculated against the virus to resume normal pre-pandemic activities like international travel, and as a result have started considering the idea of vaccine passports.

In the U.K. the government has announced that it intends to trial vaccine passports at large upcoming events but said that they would “never be required” for some places such as essential shops and public transport. The E.U are also currently reviewing plans to introduce an electronic certification to help people move more freely around the bloc. Although the World Health Organisation has said that it doesn’t support making vaccine passports a requirement for international travel because there isn’t yet enough information available on whether vaccinated people could transmit the virus. 





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