Vaccine Passport

With Vaccine Passports Near, Baker Voices Opposition to Mandate

"I've never supported or agreed to any sort of statewide vaccine mandate program," Gov. Charlie Baker said

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Gov. Charlie Baker wants to make it easier for vaccinated Massachusetts residents to move in and out of public venues requiring proof of vaccination.

A day after Gov. Charlie Baker said Massachusetts may "soon" deploy a digital COVID-19 vaccine passport similar to those in use in other states, he stressed that he remains opposed to requiring that businesses screen customers for proof of vaccination.

"I've never supported or agreed to any sort of statewide vaccine mandate program," Baker said Tuesday. "We just want to make sure that people have the ability, if they've been vaccinated and want to have proof that they've been vaccinated, that they can easily download it onto their phone and use it whenever they need to."

A COVID-19 vaccination passport program that would allow residents to quickly demonstrate their vaccine status could be up and running in Massachusetts and several other states soon, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday.

Some businesses and organizations require customers and attendees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Baker noted, and supporters of a digital passport say it will offer an easier way to prove immunization status than using a paper vaccine card.

"There are people who, in many cases, want to go to a wedding or to a church or to a restaurant where proof of vaccination is required," Baker said.

In an interview on Monday, Baker said his administration is working with more than a dozen states "to try to create a single QR code that can be used for all sorts of things where people may choose to require a vaccine."

Baker hasn't provided full details on how to enroll the certificates, but a system developed by the Vaccination Credential Initiative, a consortium of healthcare and tech companies, has developed a smart health card that is already being used in several states.

"We are about enabling the tools for individuals to participate safely in the reopening of our society and empowering them to be able to have access to their own health data," VCI leader Dr. Brian Anderson said.

Asked how close the tool was to launching here, Baker replied, "soon." "Here's my QR code," Baker told GBH hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan during the interview, suggesting how a digital vaccine passport might work. "This is my proof that I've been vaccinated, it's easy to access, it's a universal standard."

Politicians and medical experts in Massachusetts are urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot as the new omicron variant creates uncertainty across the state, the nation and around the globe.
State House News Service/NBC10 Boston