What is a vaccine passport?

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COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020 and the world as we all knew it was put on pause. A little over a year later, progress has been made in resuming to ‘normal life’ as vaccines for COVID-19 are becoming more readily available for Americans.

As of now, when you receive a vaccine you also get a vaccination card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date and where you received it, according to the CDC. 

Although you need to be vaccinated to receive the vaccination card, there are still unvaccinated people receiving cards. 

“Hundreds of fraudsters are selling blank or forged versions of the cards over ecommerce sites including eBay, Etsy and Shopify,” according to CBS News. 

With the looming concerns of vaccination cards being put into question, many people are looking at vaccine passports as the answer. 

A vaccine passport is a term to refer to digital certificates to prove vaccination status and used to enter events or businesses, according to ABC News. 

All you need is a QR Code that states your vaccination status and state health departments; pharmacies and health systems have this information as well. Your status would be verified along with your identity and downloaded in some way generating the QR code, according to NPR. 

The added value of a vaccine passport is having your vaccination status verified digitally but, with this method, there may come privacy concerns. Worries like who all would have access to personal information, as well as unvaccinated people getting denied entry into establishments.  

Like many other hot issues, this topic has become politicized with varying opinions from both sides of the political spectrum. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a supporter of vaccine passports and the app “Excelsior Pass” which is funded by the state and available free to businesses and anyone with vaccination records or test results in New York, according to USA Today. 

On the other hand, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned state agencies, political subdivisions and organizations receiving public funds from creating vaccine passports or otherwise, requiring someone to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccine to receive services, according to the Texas Tribune. 

The White House joined the debate during a COVID-19 briefing by saying that the government here is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of citizens, according to CBS News.

As the debate surrounding vaccine passports continues to intensify, people should still listen to the health experts and take the necessary precautions in combating COVID-19 so we can eventually go back to normal life. 

For more information on COVID-19 and ways you can stop the spread, visit the CDC website.

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