Battle rages over vaccine passports

Republicans are up in arms over the possibility that businesses and local governments may require vaccine passports for people to get access to certain activities, buildings or events.

The pushback comes after New York last week launched its virtual Excelsior Pass, created in partnership with IBM, that allows people to show if they have been vaccinated by flashing a QR code to get into events where proof is required.

Other governors, including Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), signaled they may launch similar programs soon, and IBM said it is in talks with federal officials and just about every state.

But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has urged his state’s GOP-controlled legislature to pass a law forbidding passes showing proof of coronavirus vaccination, while vowing to take executive action. Congressional Republicans have similarly slammed the passports, framing them as invasive.

The Biden administration has said it will provide guidance on the matter, but signaled the decisions will largely be left up to local governments and business owners.

“We’re going to provide guidance, just as we have through the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. “There’s currently an interagency process that is looking at many of the questions around vaccine verification.”