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March 31, 2021

COVID Vaccine Passports?

Team Biden-Harris ponders a vaccine passport for travel, while Florida’s governor pledges to protect residents’ privacy.

Will Americans need COVID-19 vaccine passports in order to travel? The Biden-Harris administration is reportedly looking into creating such vaccine-related credentials for travel, most specifically regarding airline travel. According to reports, the airline industry has been lobbying the White House to come up with some kind of health form verification in order to end both traveler confusion and lift current travel restrictions.

Working with technology and travel companies, the Department of Health and Human Services has taken the lead in “coordinating government agencies involved in the work, led by coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients.” Zients explained, “Our role is to help ensure that any solutions in this area should be simple, free, open source, accessible to people both digitally and on paper, and designed from the start to protect people’s privacy.”

The obvious problem with a vaccine passport is that it creates yet more government intrusion into our private lives. Furthermore, it opens up a Pandora’s box for potential legalized medical-based discrimination.

While the White House is actively considering some form of vaccine passport program, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis pledged to do just the opposite, promising on Monday to take executive action to prohibit vaccine passports.

DeSantis explained his position: “We’ve always said we want to provide [the COVID vaccine] for all but mandate it for none. Now, with something that while it was advised to take, particularly if you’re vulnerable, we were not going to force you to do it. So, there was never under discussion any mandates to take vaccines. … The flip side of that, though, with these vaccine passports, it’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society. … So, we’re not supportive of that. I think it’s something that people have certain freedoms and individual liberties to make decisions for themselves.”

DeSantis also signed into law legislation that protects business from being held liable for COVID-19. “We don’t want to be in a situation where people are scared of being sued, just for doing normal things,” he contended. “And so, we worked very early on to look at to see ways that we could provide some certainty for both businesses, and healthcare providers. This was obviously a top priority for many of us up here. And I think that the legislature has been able to deliver today.”

The simple fact is the loss of privacy leads directly to a loss of individual freedom. The excuse being made today for needing a vaccine travel passport for COVID is to ensure safety, but it will quite likely be expanded to include other medical conditions. As more folks are vaccinated and as our country and the world gets closer to herd immunity, the current travel restrictions can naturally be relaxed and eliminated. If other countries make demands for entry, they are more than free to do so. But in the U.S., we prize Liberty and protect individual freedom. This attitude should be expressed in our reaction to COVID.

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