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COVID-19 'vaccine passports' gain attention as more people get the shot

Virus Outbreak California
Posted at 4:40 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 20:48:51-04

DENVER — It’s a question beginning to circle around people’s minds. What will life look like after the pandemic and what doors will open for those who are vaccinated?

For Laura Snipan, she has no problem showing proof of her COVID-19 vaccine.

"Card. Wristband. You can tattoo it on my wrist. I don't care. I'm not worried about privacy or anything else or people wanting to know proof of vaccine," Snipan said.

On Monday, the White House announced there will be no federal mandate requiring Americans to obtain a vaccination credential or a centralized federal vaccination database. But that doesn’t mean private companies aren’t moving forward with this concept.

"I think it is absolutely important to have a vaccination passport in order to get us all back to work and get us all back to traveling again," said Richard Bird, Chief Customer Information Officer for Ping Identity.

Ping Identity in Denver is one of many companies across the country creating a “vaccine passport." They say it would securely show proof of vaccination on your phone.

"Our solution offering is focused on providing an ability for the vaccine information to be resonant on people’s devices, they’re able to control it, it is able to be kept current with connections to pharmacies, for second shots or agencies that are providing information about the need for additional immunizations or vaccinations," Bird said.

The ability to do this could also allow access into restaurants, events or venues.

For dean of the School of Hospitality at MSU Denver, Christian Hardigree, there are red flags around reasonable accommodations for people who choose to not take the vaccine as well as privacy concerns.

"One of the things I don’t hear people talking about is the diversity, equity and inclusion piece of this. We know that marginalized and vulnerable populations are more reticent based on history and confidence to get vaccines and so if we go to a process by which we require vaccinations and we require proof of vaccinations are we further marginalizing these populations?" Hardigree said.

She also said excluding people who aren’t being vaccinated could cost the state millions of dollars because of a loss in business.

For Gov. Jared Polis, whether vaccine passports catch on or not, it’s a sense of security the vaccine provides that will get people back to their normal lives.

"I think largely once people have the peace of mind knowing that they are protected, you see they are willing to go out and be around others a lot more," Polis said.

Although states like New York have already started requiring proof of vaccination in some areas, it remains unclear what this concept will look like on a larger scale and who will be granted access to walk through the door.