On Thursday, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said that Floridians would not be required to provide proof of vaccination in order to attend public events in the state.
“I just want to make very clear in Florida, we are not doing any vaccine passports. All those experts said that it was a bad idea. I think it’s a bad idea and so that will not happen. And so folks should get vaccinated, if they want to, we’ll obviously provide that, but under no circumstances will the state be asking you to show proof of vaccination, and I don’t think private companies should be doing that either,” the governor said Thursday.
DeSantis made the point that each resident of Florida should be able to determine on their own if they want to get vaccinated, as well as what events in which they feel safe participating.
“To start going down the road of vaccine passports, I mean, you have some of these states saying to go to a sporting event, you have to show either a negative test or a vaccine proof. I think you just got to make decisions. If you want to go to an event, go to an event. If you don’t, don’t. But to be requiring people to provide all this proof, that’s not how you get society back to normal so we’re rejecting any vaccine passports here in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
According to Orlando local media, the governor also spoke about the topic on Thursday in a meeting with medical personnel. Attendees included Dr. Scott Atlas, professor Sunetra Gupta, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and Dr. Martin Kulldorff. All of them reportedly agreed with the governor and were against the idea of vaccine identification, saying that it could end up harming more than helping.
“The vaccine hesitancy data show that the people who are hesitant to take vaccines actually tend to be the working class people, poor, poor people, minority populations. We’re going to then turn around and say, ‘You have to have a vaccine passport to participate in American life,’ it’s going to be a new vaccine Jim Crow. It’s a huge, huge mistake that will undermine trust in public health, and I think it’s just morally, it’s just morally wrong,” Dr. Bhattacharya said.
The governor’s announcement comes as many countries and areas are rolling out their own “vaccine passport” programs and ramping up for summer travel. Israel already has its “Green Pass” for citizens to prove vaccination, and the European Union announced that it plans to require some type of “digital certificate” to prove vaccination, as well. The state of New York has also said that it plans to require an “Excelsior Pass” for people to prove a recent negative COVID-19 test or vaccination.
The Associated Press reported on Thursday that business groups and airlines are “lobbying the White House to take the lead in setting standards for health passes. They believe that would avoid a hodge-podge of regional credentials that could cause confusion among travelers and prevent any single health certificate from being widely accepted.”
However, Andy Slavitt, a White House virus-response adviser, said, “It’s not the role of the government to hold that data and to do that … It needs to be private, the data should be secure, the access to it should be free, it should be available both digitally and in paper and in multiple languages.”