The newest thing in travel might soon be as ubiquitous as passports, tickets and reservations: a vaccine passport.
These so-called health passports will show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. The U.S. government is working with the private sector to develop some sort of passport that residents can use while traveling. It’s likely that once travel picks up, countries, airlines and other attractions will require proof of vaccination for entry; schools and workplaces may require them as well.
“We recognize this is a tricky and important subject, but the core here is that Americans, like people around the world, who are vaccinated will want to be able to demonstrate that vaccination in various forms,” Andy Slavitt, White House senior coronavirus adviser, said during a briefing Monday.
However, unlike other countries, airlines and the European Commission, which are developing their own health passports, Slavitt said the U.S. government will only help facilitate their creation; it will not issue them or control the health data.
“The government here is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of citizens,” Slavitt said. “We view this as something that the private sector is doing and will do.”
The International Air Transport Association, a trade group representing international airlines, has developed a digital vaccine platform called Travel Pass. Virgin Atlantic, Qantas and Singapore Airlines are currently using it on a trial basis. An app version will be available in April.
An interagency task force is currently looking into details. The administration has two main concerns, Slavitt said: equality and the safety and security of millions of Americans’ personal health data. The administration wants anyone to be able to use a health passport, not just those with access to technology.
The U.S. Travel Association and 26 other organizations are asking President Joe Biden to formulate a plan by May 1 to open the country to international visitors, citing the financial and job losses that have cut across the industry because of pandemic-related travel restrictions.
So far, more than 148 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 96 million adults receiving one dose, and 53 million fully vaccinated.
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