Here in Maine, the COVID-19 vaccines are now available to all adults and teenagers 16 and older.
While scheduling appointments for the adults in the house, we naturally started thinking about summer vacation and where we should go (and if we should go at all). We can't decide between a trip to the grocery store or Tahiti. After a year of being at home with limited interaction with other people, we can't seem to settle on a middle-of-the-road option.
An interesting side effect of receiving the first of two jabs — besides the excitement that maybe, just maybe there really is a light at the end of this long tunnel — is how protective I am of my vaccine card yet willing to whip it out and show people (sensitive information redacted, of course) on social media. The only other time I've been this excited about a document was when I received my first passport.
Which naturally led me to think of vaccine passports. It is one of the hot topics this week, and I suspect it will remain one throughout the next few months. If you haven't had a chance yet, I encourage you to read my colleague Jennifer Bryant's piece on vaccine passports and navigating a post-pandemic world. She writes, "Digital vaccine passports or health credentials that could be used to verify a person's COVID-19 vaccination status or test results are gaining traction around the world to potentially reopen travel and more."
That's certainly the case in the EU as the European Data Protection Board and the European Data Protection Supervisor released a joint opinion on a proposal for a Digital Green Certificate that "aims to facilitate the exercise of the right to free movement within the EU" during the pandemic.
Back in the U.S., states are at odds over vaccine passports.
Earlier this week, Florida, Texas and Idaho banned their respective state governments from "requiring or issuing COVID-19 vaccine passports." On the other hand, New York state was the first to launch a digital COVID-19 app for its residents. Madison Square Garden is already using the app, and smaller venues are expected to follow suit shortly.
While there is some resistance to a digital COVID-19 app, proof of vaccination is not a new concept in the U.S. If your kids go to school, you have to provide an updated vaccine record at the beginning of each school year. In many states, without that proof, kids can't get back into the classroom. Similarly, proof is required to travel to countries that require specific vaccines prior to entry.
At the national level, the Biden administration has signaled it will not mandate businesses and individuals to use a digital COVID-19 app. The administration is, however, in talks with the airline industry regarding technical guidance on vaccine passports. Guidance on the matter is also planned to be issued to the general population.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the guidance would provide "important answers to questions that Americans have, in particular around concerns about privacy, security, or discrimination, soon."
Hopefully, by the time the states and travel industry decide how they want to move forward with the apps, we'll have decided whether our vacation will be to Hannaford or Hawaii.
Have a good weekend, and stay safe.
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