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“Vaccine passports” spark debate and division

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There’s a growing debate over “vaccine passports” — proof that you’ve gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. Some businesses and even cruise lines are demanding them but opposition is building over privacy and other concerns.

Greg Johnson, chief operations officer for the Health Innovation Alliance, referred CBS News to a list of passport initiatives outlined by the federal government in a presentation obtained by the Washington Post. At least 17 companies and organizations are developing passport apps, according to the plans. Whether they can legally be required is an open question.

Israel has required them for months and Britain is considering the same. In the U.S., only New York has a voluntary passport option.

Norwegian Cruise Line hopes requiring all crew and guests to be vaccinated will be its ticket to resume sailing from U.S. ports this summer. Frank Del Rio, the company CEO, believes it could eliminate the risk of outbreaks at sea.

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“This is a pandemic, this is a crisis and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to please 100% of the people, 100% of the time,” Del Rio said. 

However, the White House and some governors are hesitant about vaccine passports, citing privacy and civil liberties concerns. “You don’t want to create a second class of citizens based on whether someone has received vaccines,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

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Craig Klugman, a bioethics professor at DePaul University, said an immunization card has been required to enter certain countries since 1969. “Which do you value more, the freedom of people to go about and do whatever they want, or are we concerned about providing the best health that we can for our community?” Klugman said.

There are also equity concerns. Digital vaccine passports may be limited to smartphone owners and exclude communities with less access to the vaccine. 

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