US Government May Issue Voluntary Vaccine Passports For Travel

Countries that have been opening to vaccinated Americans are accepting CDC vaccine cards as ‘proof’ of vaccination. These are pieces of cardstock you can print off the internet, and real ones are often filled out by hand. There is no central federal database of who has had a vaccine, those specifics are generally held at the state level – and the quality of recordkeeping varies dramatically.

An inability to verify the legitimacy of vaccination records is the primary reason that Hawaii rolled out its ‘vaccine passports’ – the ability to skip quarantine for those who have been vaccinated – by limiting the option to only those who had been vaccinated in Hawaii. They have the records.

The Biden Administration said in March that vaccine passports are on the way. Then they backed off and clarified there would be no mandatory passports. Still they were working with airlines to offer some form of proof that vaccination claims are real. Two months later and they still don’t have anything to offer.

The Secretary of Homeland Security, though, says vaccine passports are still under serious consideration as a way of helping Americans meet the requirements of entry for foreign countries (and perhaps the CDC would then accept vaccination in lieu of testing for return to the U.S.).

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday that the U.S. is taking “a very close look” at vaccine passports for international travel.

…Principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday that the administration’s stance hasn’t changed on vaccine passports.

“The U.S. government recognizes that other countries have or may have foreign entry requirements. We will be monitoring these and helping all U.S. travellers meet those,” Jean-Pierre said. “But there will be no federal mandate requiring anyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

Of course countries are opening to Americans even without this, at least outside of Asia. So it’s more a service to other countries than to Americans that’s being contemplated.

And with an abundance of vaccine – anyone in the U.S. who wants vaccination can have it, accessing even the top vaccines available to the world, the U.S. is even vaccinating 12 year olds while other countries suffer much greater current harm from the pandemic – there’s not really a significant need to fake vaccine credentials.

Roughly speaking the only people in the U.S. who would fake vaccine credentials are those who object to vaccination, but are willing to keep their views on the subject quiet. That’s a narrow group. In contrast, citizens of countries without access to abundant vaccine supply have strong reason to fake their credentials.

Put another way, there’s no good way to verify U.S. vaccination credentials, but there’s very little need to verify U.S. vaccination credentials.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The COVID vaccination cards are going to be ridiculously easy for imposters to fabricate. Which is one of the reasons we still mask up around large groups of maskless folks. Anti-vaxxers will undoubtedly use counterfeit vax cards to suit their own needs. It’s in their nature: “me, me, me, my rights, my liberty, screw everyone else”. Sad.

  2. The world thanks the US govt for keeping your antivaxxer crowd at home in advance.

  3. Americans become dumber by the minute. It’s amazing to see how fast and far the country fell.

  4. If there is a vaccine passport, I hope it will be paper. Either that or a government program to give a free smartphone to anyone that wants one. Where is my free smartphone?

    I actually need a new smartphone. I have a special one for crossing borders so if a customs or immigration official demands to download my phone, I have no hesitation. Go ahead, make my day. (I have nothing super secret on my regular phone but I don’t want others to see my email or photos even though James Bond probably has theoretical access to them)

  5. @derek, you are always free to stay home.
    Then you dont have to worry about anyone accessing your phone 🙂

    Gotta love Americans …. keep thinking entering other countries is your “right”

  6. “ but are willing to keep their views on the subject quiet. ” not a narrow segment of the population at all. As a doctor I’ve had plenty of the overlapping anti-mask contingent show up maskless saying “the CDC said…”

    It’s not until I explicitly ask: “are you vaccinated” that I get the response “no” and have to educate them.

    They’ll do whatever they want as it suits them.

  7. Will countries still accept my yellow who vaccine booklet that I carry when transiting malaria-ridden shitholes or are those now considered forged? This has become an industry and a marketing tool all in one!

  8. Even with a vaccine passport, the dark web will find a way to circumvent it…most are much smarter than our present unelected bureaucrats who couldn’t find their backside with a map, a flashlight and both of their hands.
    I find most of these posts to be quite amusing…kinda makes my day.

  9. @Rude Bandit – you do realize if you are vaccinated w one of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna) that you are basically fully protected and also highly unlikely to pass along any infection. That is why the CDC and practically all states have dropped mask mandates even indoors for vaccinated people. CA 6/15 will be 49th and only Hawaii will be left.

    You don’t need to wear a mask or worry if those unmasked are vaccinated or not. They are the ones at risk not you! I am conservative but got vaccinated (and did my entire family including my 17 year old daughter) as soon as we could. Don’t understand the idiot anti-vaxxers but don’t feel the need to wear a mask (which I hate) out of some fear they may not be vaccinated and won’t wear a mask. Let them get sick and build immunity that way. They are only hurting themselves, not you, so please don’t be paranoid and enjoy your life without a mask!

    BTW I am all for vaccine passports and enforcing them to go in businesses or events. No God given right to travel, eat at a restaurant or attend a concert/sporting event. Maybe if they were prohibited from participating in many day-to-day activities most of the anti-vaxxers would change their tune

  10. Actually Chris the yellow booklet is primarily for (appropriately) yellow fever. Got mine a long time ago and understand it is now good for life rather than the 10 years listed. Yes people do fake that form, but they are better than nothing, Anyway, if what you say is really your opinion of poor countries then perhaps it’s just as well you reconsider visiting them. Ordinary people are doing the best they can to live in such places. Finally I will say that it is unfortunate the US government didn’t think out a better Covid record keeping system (mine was given to me blank and I had to fill in my own name and websites given details on the typeface and card stock) but given the chaotic mess Biden inherited maybe that wasn’t high on the list of things to do. We’ll stumble through this, and in fact do seem to be on the way.

  11. Am I the only person in the world that actually wants this? I got vaccinated and this will just make my life easier if it’s official and not the cheap card I get from the CDC.

  12. I can tell you in 2 weeks how this

    “but there’s very little need to verify U.S. vaccination credentials”
    when i go to Europe and try to travel within Eu.

  13. Biden’s going to come up with a vaccine passport? I thought the Party of the Jackass said nobody needs no stinking papers (to enter the country, to vote, to prove they were vaccinated, etc.). Has The New Messiah received a new vision or just had a senior moment?

  14. Only problem is it is not a fda approved vaccine, it is simply an injection… nothing more, nothing less. Anybody that doesn’t understand that isn’t looking at the actual facts and science… they are simply assuming science has proven a viable vaccine that is safe and effective which is not actual science! (BASED ON AN ASSumption)

  15. @Ann, that attitude is uncalled for. That attitude would tell Black people to stay at home if they are concerned about police brutality. Or blaming rape victims. NO.

  16. My anti-vaxxer acquaintances have ALL said that if a vax is required to travel overseas, they aren’t gonna leave the “good ‘ole USA to go to some socialist-commie European country”. One of them even said the vaxxes are a Nazi-like scheme by the “world government” and next we’ll all be required to have tattoos to travel internationally, so the only way to avoid that is to stay home, maybe go camping or take a trip to Myertle beach. (This, from a top educator with 2 Master’s degrees!)

    Honestly, I don’t believe there will be that many people forging CDC cards to travel internationally. And the ones who do are only putting themselves at risk.

  17. @derek… yeah not the same… youre missing the point.

    You can do whatever the hell you want in your own country. Vaccinate or not, your choice.

    But you cant come into mine. My country. My rules.

  18. @derek are you seriously comparing someone accessing your phone at the border to getting beat up or raped?

    Just because someone wants to make sure that you are vaxxed, or nothing illegal does not make you a victim. Geeze, stop crying foul. What do you have to hide on your phone anyway?

    All the vaccination in most of the world are centrally recorded and therefore the govt can provided digital passports that are valid, while at the same time securing the info in a QR code. Only the us has this backwards privacy that essentially makes us carry pieces of paper that are not accepted anywhere because they can be forged.

    I would register instantly to a vaccine passport, just like I registered for faster passport control, boarding passes on my phone and digital visas when required.

    And btw. Us border patrol can require search of your phone before entry. So this is not new and no one calls that brutality, they call it protecting the border.

  19. Only way to do vaccine passports now is if the data comes directly from the health systems that administered the shots. Anything else is useless.

  20. I am a trusted traveler with Global entry for almost 10 years. We can just add the vaccine record to
    the trusted traveler program. Or just charge a small money to verify and print the state record and stamp a federal seal.

  21. It’s funny how people like rude bandit who are likely vaccinated continue to wear masks. Probably the same people who “follow the science” until they no longer like what it says. What a moron.

  22. Sorry, as someone work in the healthcare system, I can say this is no way to roll out a federal level vaccine passport that can survive in court. Thanks to the all the regulation and laws regarding handle medical information.

  23. Sorry, you are shamefully off-base again. Your posts in the last year have dropped you from one of my most respected blogs to one of the least. I live in a state where only 35% of people are vaccinated. That means 65% are UNVACCINATED, including nurses working on our COVID units. And here in a shamelessly non-science state it is very shamefully clear in my hospital (and my husband’s) that the anti-vaxxers and non-believers are only too happy to lie about and get fake credentials to travel. They won’t vaccinate but have no trouble lying to get their way on travel for their convenience. It’s not about a moral stand against vaccination, it’s about lying for their convenience. You need to step out of your bubble and take a real look around and see what is really going on.

  24. The article concerning a possible vaccination confirmation is encouraging
    except for the last paragraph where it incorrectly states:

    “Put another way, there’s no good way to verify U.S. vaccination credentials – – – .”
    There is an easy and valid way to confirm that a person is vaccinated. The vaccinated person needs to have their doctor write a prescription for a “Coronavirus-19 Spike antibody test” which is performed from a blood draw and done at a private medical lab.

    If it has been at least a few weeks post-vaccination, a vaccinated person will produce coronavirus-19 antibodies. Those antibodies cannot be faked.

    Ask the lab or your doctor to put the test results in your online access medical file.

    If traveling or when asked for confirmation of vaccination, you can use your phone or computer to access the lab report to show that you have the coronavirus-19 antibodies.

    When you have the test at a lab, you are asked for identification which is included in the test result. If you have the test through your doctor, your identifying information is shown on the test result.

  25. I have 1.) the CDC card (in my own handwriting because the vaccination site had us fill out all the details ourselves – except for the vaccine lot number and place vaccine was administered), 2.) a print out of ALL my vaccinations from the state database given to me by my primary physician (no seal, no notarization, no one’s signature however), and my primary physician’s phone app which has ALL my lab results (including the spike protein IgG which supposedly shows I’ve been vaccinated) as well as my COVID vaccine x2 recorded in that database. Do you think an immigration officer (or airline gate agent) will have the time/knowledge/understanding to look at any one of these documents and be able to discern their meaning? How much time do you think this will take for each person presenting such evidence? I vote for something better!

  26. just traveled to Europe, the CDC vaccine card was accepted without complaint.
    However, it is not accepted to return to the US without a test!
    We definitely need something better, something that would take real money or a lot of effort to forge — in that case, only very few people would go to those lengths, as Gary writes.
    At the moment, it is so easy to lie about being vaccinated or to forge these cards that there is very little obstacle against forgery. It would feel as easy as jaywalking.
    But when people have to put in hours of work or pay a lot of money, they often think twice about breaking the law.

  27. Vaccine: artificial method of stimulating the body’s immune system to protect against an infection.

    Being infected and recovering from said infection: the “natural method”

    I have had covid and recovered from it. My body has done it’s job and is primed with the antibodies. There is absolutely no reason for me to have a vaccine. What about my use case?

  28. I like that United is storing my vaccine information on MileagePlus. Seems that maybe they will create a vaccine digital app much like the Middle East and some Asian airlines are doing in partnership with IATA. Forward thinking? Perhaps.

    At the end of the day those that choose not to be vaccinated are probably not likely to travel abroad. But if they do, local laws will confront them and good luck.
    I’m not getting political !

  29. As always, the anti-vaxxers are welcome to travel to their heart’s content to Galveston and Daytona.

  30. @Pip – no one cares, there are many stupid rules that we conform to – and you are welcome to stay home or in the US and not get the vaccine.

    I havent killed anyone with my shampoo, yet I cant bring it on a plane. If I dont like that, I m free to stay home.

  31. @Ann, your comment seems to recognize that the rules may be stupid but we all just comply ….I think this misses the other side of the coin here. People say well if you want to do this or that just submit, it’s not a right, maybe this point is correct other times people mix up rights and privileges but the other side of the coin is when people don’t travel for instance in numbers large enough to make large corporations hurt then the tune changes. Vaccination still doesn’t guarantee anything, there is still risk that is taken when we travel and instituting more and more rules compounding on one another to make some people feel safe instead of returning to normal is sadly where many are.

  32. I just got vaccinated so I could work horse shows without a mask. That’s the ONLY reason. To think that a vac that’s been rushed to market under extreme political pressure is a good idea boggles my mind. The long-term effects? Who knows? I just hope I don’t wake up one morning with extra toes or fingers. Or a missing ear.

  33. Mercifully, the vast majority of the anti science, anti facts Drumpf crowd has never, and will never leave God’s chosen hillbilly land. Stay home in the bibble belt and rot from Covid, you pogues.

  34. @Pip Everything you state is wrong. Matter of fact, people who have had Covid and then get vaccinated have the most protection. People who a mild infection of Covid still need to be vaccinated. Which is most people who have had Covid, because unless one was hospitalized the chances are that one’s body did not produce enough of an immune response. Your Dr. can test to see if you have enough antibodies.

    “The studies suggest that most people who have recovered from Covid-19 and who were later immunized will not need boosters. Vaccinated people who were never infected most likely will need the shots, however, as will a minority who were infected but did not produce a robust immune response.”
    Article source:

  35. >>Not sure if you are vaccinated why you care if anyone else is as this point.>>

    The virus will have more of a chance to mutate in unvaccinated people, perhaps to a form that will threaten the vaccinated.

    If unvaccinated people get sick, they will be a burden to the healthcare system, decreasing available medical personnel and increasing all of our costs.

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