By Chris Enloe
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declared Monday that he would take executive action to prevent "vaccine passports" from being made a requirement for Floridians to participate in society.
What is the background?
Governments and entire industries are rallying behind the "vaccine passport," a digital or physical certificate that would prove a person's COVID-19 vaccination status.
New York became the first state to roll out a vaccine passport program. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who is embroiled in multiple scandals related to the pandemic, said the immunity certificate, dubbed the "Excelsior Pass," will allow businesses and other venues to increase gathering capacities. The Washington Post reported that President Joe Biden is also working to develop a similar program that may be rolled out nationally.
There are significant privacy concerns with vaccine passports. However, building the digital infrastructure using blockchain technology, which New York's IBM-developed program uses, could alleviate such concerns.
What did DeSantis say?
DeSantis announced Monday that he would take "emergency" executive action this week action to prevent vaccine passports from coming to Florida.
"It's completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able participate in normal society," DeSantis said. "You want to go to a movie theater, should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a game? No. You want to go to a theme park? No. So we're not supportive of that."
"People have certain freedoms and liberties to make certain decisions for themselves," he continued, expressing concerns over "huge privacy implications" of requiring vaccine passports.
DeSantis also urged Florida lawmakers to take action, explaining that preventing vaccine passports in Florida is ultimately a decision the state legislature would have to make.
"We need the legislature to come in and say, 'This is not happening in Florida,'" DeSantis said.
Earlier in March, DeSantis promised Florida would not enact vaccine mandates or vaccine passports.
"I just want to make very clear in Florida, we are not doing any vaccine passports," DeSantis said. "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," he added.
Author: Chris Enloe