Equal access to vaccines was also mentioned as a reason for the global health body's rejection of vaccine passports. The WHO's rejection of such passports followed a number of states in the U.S. requiring proof of vaccination before allowing people to enter business establishments.
WHO Spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris told reporters during an April 6 news conference in Geneva, Switzerland: "We are saying at this stage [that] we would not like to see the vaccination passport as a requirement for entry or exit because we are not certain that the [COVID-19] vaccine prevents transmission."
Harris also cited the issue of equity – the equal access to vaccines across different groups in society – as to why the global health body rejected vaccine passports. Back in early March, WHO Health Emergencies Program Executive Director Dr. Michael Ryan told reporters: "Vaccination is just not available enough around the world and is not available certainly on an equitable basis."
But the WHO is leaving the door open for vaccine passports.
"This is an evolving situation. When we know more about whether or not [the vaccine] prevents transmission and when there's greater equity, this is something that may well be important in the future]," Harris said.
Meanwhile, New York launched its version of vaccine passport called the Excelsior Pass. It can be used in concerts and sporting events.
The office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the launch of the pass in a March 26 statement. According to the press release, it makes use of "proven, secure technology to confirm an individual's recent negative PCR or antigen test result or proof of vaccination."
The Excelsior Pass is similar to a mobile airline boarding pass that can either be printed out or stored in people's smartphones. Each pass will have a secure QR code that participating establishments can scan to verify an individual's health status.
However, some states went against the grain and rejected vaccine passports. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis became the first executive to scrap vaccine passport requirements. He argued that mandating people to submit proof of immunization would create a class system of vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens. (Related: Florida governor bans vaccine passports, as they create TWO CLASSES of citizens.)
"A requirement to show a passport to take part in everyday life – such as [attending] a sporting event, going to a restaurant or going to a movie theater – would 'create two classes of citizens,'" the Republican governor remarked. DeSantis earlier slammed the concept as "unnecessary" during a March 29 press conference.
"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," he said.
The governor of the Sunshine State signed an order banning the use of COVID-19 vaccine passports. DeSantis's April 2 executive order forbids local governments and businesses from requiring people to show proof of vaccination before they can obtain products and services. He wrote on Twitter that the Florida Legislature "is working on making permanent these protections for Floridians."
According to the governor's order, vaccination records are "private health information" that should not be shared by a mandate. It added that vaccine passports are detrimental to both individual freedom and patient privacy.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott followed his GOP colleague's footsteps, becoming the second state executive to block vaccine passports. The Lone Star State's governor said on April 6 that he issued an order banning the vaccine passport requirement for people before they can obtain certain services. Abbott's order would apply to state agencies, political subdivisions and publicly-funded organizations. (Related: Gov. Abbott declares no government-mandated "vaccine passports" in Texas.)
In a video announcing the executive order, Abbott reiterated that vaccines to help Texans return to normal "are always voluntary and never forced." He continued: "Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination … just to go about their daily lives. That is why I have issued an executive order that prohibits government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas."
Abbott emphasized that he and his administration "will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health without treading on Texans' personal freedoms."