Local state vaccine passport bans and increasing numbers of vaccine certificate forgeries are making it hard for travelers to provide a secure COVID vaccine passport.
In the U.S., the subject of a COVID vaccine passport has become polarizing and controversial. Regardless of which side you’re on, vaccine passports have already arrived and they are quickly becoming more widespread. Some US states have banned them locally. Some legislatures have passed laws to restrict their use. Regardless of whether travelers think that vaccine passports are an invasion of privacy or essential to permit vaccinated people the freedom to travel, they are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.
For years, America’s legal standard has been to permit employers, including public schools, to require vaccinations and proof thereof. It’s a matter of public health safety. Americans aren’t required to be vaccinated. But if they want to fully participate in certain activities or have specific employment, they need to be vaccinated. No American is required to have a COVID vaccine passport. Vaccination certificates merely permit the vaccinated to show proof of that fact.
When the EU opens its borders for travelers this summer, they intend to require some form of a vaccination passport.
Last week, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said, “The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines. This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.” Beginning this summer, the European Union (EU) intends to reopen to tourists, but they intend to require visitors to be vaccinated in order for them to travel freely. To enable that freedom, it’s clear that the EU will require proof of vaccination. Expect a COVID vaccine passport, in some form or another, likely digital.
Australia announced in February that all travelers to their nation must be fully vaccinated for at least 14 days by the time they arrive. Digital vaccination verification, though the details haven’t yet been announced, must be produced.
New York state already has its Excelsior Pass vaccine passport. It’s only available for those vaccinated or tested in New York, but it’s likely to be opened to residents of other states sooner than later.
Beginning next week, Hawaii will allow those vaccinated in the state to travel between its islands without testing or quarantine restrictions. Governor Ige said that he hopes Hawaii will work out a vaccine verification system that will permit out-of-state visitors the same travel freedom.
The cruise industry heads toward all cruise lines requiring a COVID vaccine passport for passengers to provide vaccination proof.
The cruise industry is heading in that direction. Crystal Cruises announced that all guests be fully vaccinated prior to boarding their ships. Grand Circle instituted the same requirement, but also requires that all crew members are fully vaccinated. Lindblad requires all passengers 16 years old and up to be vaccinated. Norwegian requires the same, at least until October 31, 2021. Royal Caribbean requires full vaccinations of its crew and all adult guests. Regent Seven Seas Cruises requires full vaccinations of all guests and crew before boarding. Other cruise lines also require full COVID-19 vaccination prior to boarding.
The question now is not if, but how cruise passengers will prove they’re vaccinated. Whatever form it takes, it will essentially be a vaccine passport.
Vaccine bans, like the one in Florida, may be highly counterproductive. How will the Florida ban affect the cruise industry that intends to require passengers are vaccinated?
Vaccine passport bans may be extremely counterproductive. In particular, the vaccine passport ban in Florida may backfire if it’s not lifted soon, or includes some exemptions, such as for the cruise industry which operates out of multiple ports in the state. Governor Desantis has a problem. He’s been adamant about banning vaccine passports and/or any proof of vaccination to engage in any activity in his state. He’s also been highly vocal about his desire to get the cruise industry working again, with so many Floridians normally employed by the industry. The vaccine passport ban is a legal stumbling block to restarting the cruise industry in Florida.
Will vaccinated travelers choose to avoid states that don’t permit businesses to require vaccinations or at least determine employee vaccination status?
Banning vaccine passports and business requirements for them may lead to serious travel industry problems in some states. It’s unknown if the bans will cause travelers to decide to skip U.S. states that don’t permit businesses from requiring vaccinations and/or asking employees and guests about their vaccine status. Many travelers may decide it makes more sense to travel to resorts, sights, hotels, states, etc., that permit employers to require vaccinations. Travelers may demand at least queries about vaccine status. Will others not travel to places without that requirement? I don’t know.
With U.S. COVID-19 vaccination certificates so easy to forge, scammers are already providing certificates to unvaccinated Americans.
In the US, already hundreds of scammers have apparently issued thousands of vaccine certificates to unvaccinated Americans. It’s been reported that websites like “patriots.win” instruct people online about how they can make fake vaccine certificates. The current U.S. vaccine certificate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is printed on standard cardstock and vaccine information entries are handwritten on them. That makes the certificates extremely easy for anyone to forge.
Every American who wants dependable, verifiable vaccination proof should be able to obtain it. Many countries and businesses in the travel industry soon will require proof of vaccination. Even if the Biden Administration doesn’t want to require vaccination passports, they need to ensure that every American is able to get a reliable vaccination passport that is both verifiable and as difficult as possible to fake or forge.
After many years working in corporate America as a chemical engineer, executive and eventually CFO of a multinational manufacturer, Ned founded a tech consulting company and later restarted NSL Photography, his photography business. Before entering the corporate world, Ned worked as a Public Health Engineer for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. As a well known corporate, travel and wildlife photographer, Ned travels the world writing about travel and photography, as well as running photography workshops, seminars and photowalks. Visit Ned’s Photography Blog and Galleries.