President Joe Biden’s administration is not creating COVID-19 vaccine passports but officials are working with private companies to set guidelines for the systems, which people can use to show proof they’ve been vaccinated, the White House said Monday.
The administration will “provide guidance” on the effort to develop vaccine passports and similar systems, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington.
“There is currently an interagency process that is looking at many of the questions around vaccine verification, and that issue will touch many agencies, as verification is an issue that will potentially touch many areas of society. That’s guidance we’ll provide. A determination or development of vaccine passport or whatever you want to call it will be driven by the private sector. Ours will more be focused on guidelines that can be used as a basis and there are a couple of key principles that we are working from,” she added.
The key principles are that there will be no centralized, universal database tracking COVID-19 vaccinations, there will be no federal mandate requiring all Americans to obtain a single vaccine passport, there will be encouragement of an open marketplace with both companies and nonprofits developing technology, and there will be an effort by the government to ensure all passports meet key standards, such as “accessibility” and “affordability,” Psaki said.
“This is something we are working through. We want to provide clarity to the public,” she added.
Several reports had indicated over the weekend that the administration was leading the effort to create passports by setting standards for the systems.
New York state became the first state in the nation to roll out a vaccine passport last week. The technology, developed with IBM, will be used at entrances to stadiums, arenas, and businesses to prove the holder has received a COVID-19 vaccine.
“As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Other companies and groups are developing similar technology, with an eye on requiring vaccinations to fly on planes, attend concerts, and for other venues where crowds of people gather.
Some have expressed concern about the passes.