While proponents see a proper role for government and private businesses to enforce the implementation of vaccine passports, others have concerns. This implementation carries the assumption that businesses need protections against lawsuits that might arise from serving customers who voluntarily visit their establishments during a pandemic.
Acting under that premise, there are other options for limiting risk. The CDC, under the Trump administration, embarked on an education and marketing campaign to advise recommendations it considered healthy practices to "stop the spread," including hand washing and social distancing.
In the name of public interest, however, countries around the world and individual states here in the U.S. began the process of implementing vaccine passports. In May, National Health Service (NHS) England added a COVID-19 vaccination status functionality to their existing app. In June, Wales launched a Covid pass service through the state Digital Health and Care organization that coordinates with NHS England data. The program includes a digitally accessible pdf that can be printed or a paper alternative can be provided by mail.
England's Institute for Government acknowledges that "Covid passports could speed up the return to normal life and increase economic activity with a reduced risk of virus transmission" but warns, "As Covid passports are a means to ensure only people who have immunity or have tested negative undertake certain activities, this automatically excludes others. Creating a two-tier society, where only some people can participate in normal activities or access employment opportunities could have major ethical implications."
Northern Ireland launched a digital health passport for Covid through an app designed by Civica software with Digital Health & Care NI and the State Digital Transformation Service in July. It uses facial recognition and QR codes to prove identity and vaccination status, and the State Department of Health says the app meets European Union and World Health Organization standards.
Israel's Ministry of Health implemented a Green Pass vaccine passport in March that used QR codes and a phone app to track details about COVID vaccination status. After opposition, enforcement issues, and a drop in reported cases, its use was stopped three months later. Now Reuters reports Israel's reimposition, along with indoor masks, over Delta variant fears.
Australia launched vaccine passports in June, including a physical version using hologram technology and a digital version available through a government app and Medicare program. While Italy's new Green Pass tracks vaccine status and negative tests, set to be used to enforce requirements for access to public events and indoor restaurants starting August 6th.
Soon after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said he would leave the decision up to provincial governments in July, Quebec and Manitoba announced plans to use vaccine passports while Alberta and Saskatchewan said they would not.
In a press conference today, Premier François Legault said that Quebec's system is coming soon. "We can already talk about the beginning of a fourth wave," Legault said to the Montreal press. The program will be described in detail by Health Minister Christian Dubé in the coming days.
NYS Excelsior App
New York was the first state in the U.S. to implement a vaccine passport in March 2021. The Excelsior Pass is a digital "proof" of "COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results" that is accepted by "participating businesses and venues" in the state of New York.
Though it refers to "key economic activities," an explanation page on the website uses the examples of "arts and entertainment venues, stadiums and arenas, and weddings and catered events" as those needing proof of vaccine or negative test to attend.
Legislatively opposing the implementation of vaccine passports, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an Executive Order in June that bans any state-funded groups or agencies from denying entry or services based on vaccination status. The legislature passed SB 968, preventing businesses from requiring vaccine passports or vaccine information.
Similarly, Florida's State House passed SB 72. This law provides heightened legal protections from COVID-19 lawsuits against businesses as they reopen, as UncoverDC reported in March. It requires a physician to submit an affidavit attesting to a "reasonable degree of certainty" that any damages, injury, or death occurred not just as a result of COVID-19 but as a result of the defendant's acts or omissions. It further strengthens the burden of proof to gross negligence or lack of effort by the defendant to "substantially comply with authoritative or controlling government-issued health standards or guidance."
While in Montana, Republican Representative Jennifer Carlson sponsored HB 702 and was passed on May 7. A FAQ on Montana's Department of Labor & Industry website explains that the bill "prohibits discrimination based on vaccination status or having an immunity passport."
On The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton, Naomi Wolf said in March:
"I am not overstating this. I cannot say it forcefully enough. This is literally the end of human liberty in the West if this plan unfolds. [A] Vaccine Passport sounds like a fine thing if you don’t understand what those platforms can do. It’s not about the vaccine; it’s not about the virus. It’s about your data. Once this rolls out, you don’t have a choice about being part of the system. Any other functionality can be loaded onto that platform. It can be merged with your PayPal account, with your digital currency.”
She continued, “Microsoft is already talking about merging it with payment plans. Your networks can be sucked up; it geolocates you everywhere you go, your credit history can be included, all of your medical information can be included."
Also, in March, Paul Craig Roberts, author, economist, and sub-cabinet for Reagan, wrote:
"I am convinced that no health purpose will be served by Covid passports and that the public should protest the introduction of a Soviet-style internal passport. Once established, the Covid passport will be a boon for Big Pharma. A yearly booster shot will be decreed, and without it, your passport will expire. Keep in mind that Florida avoided lockdowns and mask mandates and has no worse infection and death rate than lockdown states. Notice also that many highly qualified experts have criticized the lockdowns, mask mandates, use of untested vaccines, and the prohibition on using safe, effective treatments such as HCQ and Ivermectin. Why were their voices censored and the information kept from the public? The only explanation I can think of is that Covid is being used for an unstated agenda. We should not be deceived into cooperating with this unstated agenda."
Veteran newsman and Emmy-Award-winning producer John Spiropolous had videos taken down from YouTube in May that documented protests of Digital Vaccination Passports in California. There have been massive worldwide protests against Vaccine Passports, as reported by UncoverDC. Frankie Val and UncoverDC Editor-in-Chief Tracy Beanz also discussed vaccine passports on their Dark to Light podcast.
*This article was updated to include Canada's announcement on Aug. 5 of implementing a vaccine passport.