In effect, this effort uses corporations to discriminate against Americans who have healthy, functioning, innate immune systems that are capable of beating the virus without vaccine intervention.
The initiative to extend aid to corporations developing vaccine passports is driven largely by the Department of Health and Human Services. The concept of a vaccine passport has gained popularity among private sector executives, as many companies want to prevent unvaccinated people from entering their locations. Many are considering making a passport a requirement to enter movie theaters, restaurants, music and sports venues and to go on cruise lines.
Biden's initiative follows an executive order he signed in January directing agencies to assess the feasibility of creating a unified and digital system for the vaccine passports, known as "international certificates of vaccination or prophylaxis."
Andy Slavitt, a senior advisor to the White House's coronavirus response team, said on Monday, March 29, that the private sector is leading the effort to create the unified vaccine passport database. The Biden administration will provide guidance on the matter, but supposedly will not own any kind of vaccination data.
"This is going to hit all parts of society, and so naturally, the government is involved," said Slavitt. "We view this as something that the private sector is doing and will do. What's important to us – and we're leading an interagency process right now to go through the details – is that some important criteria be met with these credentials."
Slavitt and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the criteria include making sure that all Americans will not have any barriers preventing them from signing up for their own vaccine passports, including technological barriers. Psaki added that the White House will work with companies to make the passports "private and secure."
According to federal officials, a "chaotic and ineffective" vaccine passport system would hamper the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic by "undercutting health safety measures, slowing economic recovery and undermining public trust and confidence."
Despite the clear drawbacks to creating a vaccine passport, at least 17 different groups are attempting to create their own versions of it. These groups include the World Health Organization, the International Air Transport Association and the tech coalition known as the Vaccine Credential Initiative. (Related: Walmart will offer digital vaccine passport to customers, claiming it's proof that vaccinated people are "safe.")
Republicans are spearheading the fight against the implementation of vaccine passports.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida was one of the first people to vocally oppose it. On Monday, he promised to take executive action to prevent any attempt to make them a requirement in the state.
"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," said DeSantis.
In Ohio, Republican State Reps. Al Cutrona and Mike Loychik have pledged to co-sponsor legislation that would prohibit any entity from making vaccine passports a requirement for entering an area or establishment.
"A vaccine should not be mandated or required by our government for our people to integrate back to a sense of normalcy," said Cutrona in a statement on Tuesday, March 30. "We've had restrictions on our freedoms for over a year and more restrictions or mandates are not the answer to every issue related to COVID-19."
Many congressional Republicans have spoken out against the vaccine passport as well.
House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana told Fox News that, if Democrats continue to push for vaccine IDs, "they now have zero grounds to object to voter ID laws."
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky came out with a similar attack. He wrote on his personal Twitter account: "If you think voter ID is racist, but a vaccine passport is just fine, you need some serious help thinking through public policy."
"Vaccine passports are meant to control what you can do, where you can go and how much the government can know about your activities," wrote Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert on her Twitter account. "Privacy is a right."
"They are actually talking about people's ability to buy and sell linked to the vaccine passport," commented Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. "They might as well call it Biden's Mark of the Beast."
Other prominent Republicans that spoke out against the possible implementation of a vaccine passport include Reps. Pete Sessions of Texas, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina. Donald Trump Jr., son of former President Donald Trump, said that every elected Republican must oppose it as an "un-American" idea.
Learn more about the push by Democrats to create a vaccine passport by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.