News Release

Vaccine Passports: What We Know and What to Consider

Around the country and in parts of the world, COVID-19 vaccination efforts continue to grow, leaving people wondering about vaccine requirements and ways to certify vaccine status. “Vaccine passports,” a paper or digital form certifying that a person has been vaccinated, have garnered increased interest in recent months, especially as countries roll out plans to reopen international and domestic travel. A new issue brief takes a closer look at what vaccine passports are, how other countries are using them, and what implementation issues to consider.

Several countries have already begun using COVID-19 vaccine passports, with policies varying across countries. For example, several countries are beginning to require proof of vaccination for incoming travelers to avoid testing or quarantining; many other countries, including the U.S., are considering implementing similar travel requirements. In the U.S., airlines have already called for vaccine certifications as an option for domestic and international travel.

The Biden administration stated it will not be the role of the federal government to issue COVID-19 vaccine passports, however individual states are exploring vaccine passport options. New York is the first state to introduce vaccine certification to access certain social activities, with other states expressing interest in doing so. Alternatively, several governors have strongly discouraged vaccine passports, with states such as Florida and Texas issuing executive orders banning the use of vaccine passports.

There are a number of implementation issues to consider surrounding vaccine passports, from equity and access to lack of uniform digital standards. The brief covers key challenges and questions about vaccine passports within the U.S. and globally.

It is likely that calls for vaccine passports will grow over time as vaccine efforts increase. Still, it remains unclear if or when the U.S. might adopt standards for a vaccine passport system for both domestic and international travel, and how extensive the use of these certifications will be.

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