WHO against COVID-19 vaccine passports for the time being, spokesperson says

WHEC and News10NBC
Created: April 06, 2021 08:17 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The World Health Organization (WHO) does not support requiring coronavirus vaccination passports for entry into countries, a spokesperson for the health agency said. 

The idea is gaining support in many European countries as a way to increase tourism, but according to the WHO, it's too early for that.

"We as WHO are saying at this stage we would not like to see the vaccination passport as a requirement for entry or exit because we are not certain at this stage that the vaccine prevents transmission," WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said Tuesday. "There are all those other questions, apart from the question of discrimination against the people who are not able to have the vaccine for one reason or another."

Currently, vaccine passports, which show whether someone has been vaccinated or recently tested negative for COVID-19, exist only in New York via the Excelsior Pass, a government-sponsored smartphone app produced in partnership with a private company.

Backers of vaccine passports argue that they are similar to other safety measures for schools and overseas travel that require proof of immunization against various diseases. But Republicans nationwide are pursuing proposals to ban their use as a restriction against people’s activities.

“I think vaccine passports are a bad idea. I do not believe that government should impose vaccine requirements or mandates in any way,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee told reporters while urging the GOP-controlled General Assembly to advance legislation this year to prohibit such requirements.

Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has said he considered the passports a project for the private sector, not the government.

Lawmakers in Arkansas and Pennsylvania are considering similar measures. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed an executive order declaring that no governmental entity may issue a vaccine passport, and businesses in that state can’t require them. 

The White House said the Biden administration will not support a system requiring Americans to carry so-called COVID-19 "vaccine passports," press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

"Let me be very clear on this. I know there's been lots of questions," Psaki said during the press briefing. "The government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential."

Psaki went on to say that "there will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential."

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