ATLANTA — There is a growing push by governors across the country against programs for so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports.
The idea is a system used to prove people are vaccinated while traveling or attending an event.
The governors in Florida and Texas said they will ban them.
On Tuesday, Gov. Brian Kemp weighed in on the debate and tweeted that Georgia will not have any state systems for the passports.
Channel 2′s Matt Johnson learned that the idea of the passports is turning into the next political battle, much like wearing masks.
Mike Breedlove is fully vaccinated and eager to travel and go to big events again. So he said knowing other people have been vaccinated too will help take away some of the anxiety.
“I think it would make me feel more comfortable, I think, I would be more apt to, you know, to participate in something like that,” Breedlove said. “It’s basically all in the name of, like, getting back to a sense of normalcy.”
Vaccine passports or vaccine certificates are already in use in New York. Countries like China, Japan and Israel have either unveiled similar digital passes or plan to do so.
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In the U.S., the future of a digital code that proves you have been vaccinated is more up in the air.
“The concept of a vaccine certificate is an ancient one. And one we’ve used for many, many years. The problem that arises here is the politics of the vaccination certificate,” said Georgia State University’s Dr. Richard Rothenburg.
Kemp tweeted on Tuesday, saying:
“I do not and will not support any kind of state-mandated vaccine passport. While the development of multiple safe, highly effective COVID-19 vaccines has been a scientific miracle, the decision to receive the vaccine should be left up to each individual.”
Rothenburg told Johnson vaccine passports are another public health idea that’s become politicized.
“We’ve diverted people from a sense of the importance of protecting themselves and protecting others and made their ability to choose not to do that paramount,” Rothenburg said.
There are no plans for a federal vaccine passport system. Though, private companies could still develop them.
The privacy concerns that come with them could actually deter some people from getting vaccinated altogether.
“Vaccine passports quickly became almost like masks 2.0. It became a debate about freedom and not a debate about how we get people vaccinated and we end this pandemic,” said Brian Castrucci with the de Beaumont Foundation.
Kevin Cumberworth said he’s skeptical about the vaccines and skeptical of the guidance to limit the spread even after getting a shot.
“That, to me, is a control issue,” said Cumberworth. “I’m kind of wondering what’s the purpose of the vaccine if there’s no freedom to break free from those things that are keeping us isolated?”
On Tuesday, the White House also stated it will not be involved in any type of national passport program.
There was a push for a federal program, but that appears to have fizzled out.
But that doesn’t mean private companies like concert venues, sports teams and airlines can’t develop their own programs, and those appear to still be in the works.