Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has dodged questions about whether he will introduce a coronavirus digital “vaccine passport,” though he confirmed the state currently has no plan to implement one, according to reports.
Baker spoke Wednesday at a news conference to address the state’s vaccine distribution progress. Reporters questioned whether the state would embrace the use of a passport to help speed up the reopening process.
The governor, a Republican, said it was “too soon” to consider any such program, wanting instead to focus on getting vaccines in arms.
“I really think the focus for us and for the commonwealth generally should be on getting everybody who wants to get vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can,” Baker said during the briefing. “There’s plenty of time to talk about some of this other stuff.”
However, he referred to passport programs as a “barrier” for people, according to the Boston Globe.
When pressed to give a firm answer, Baker said there is no current plan for a passport-style system.
The governor’s office has not returned Fox News’ request for clarification or comment.
The use of vaccine passports, which would serve as proof that someone has been vaccinated, has proven to be a contentious issue.
The White House has ruled out requiring any kind of federal passport, saying “the government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.”
That hard stance has not stopped individual states from considering the issue, with opponents claiming that any such system raises privacy concerns.
Two Ohio state legislators moved to preemptively ban any vaccine passports over concerns about privacy and government overreach.
Former Michigan Congressman Justin Amash said he believed any such passports “will have exceedingly negative consequences for society.”
“A vaccine passport — a unified, centralized system for providing or denying access to everyday activities like shopping and dining — would be a nightmare for civil liberties and privacy, and it would exacerbate existing social disparities connected to wealth, privilege, and race,” Amash tweeted.
Supporters, though, believe a passport system will allow businesses and countries to reopen safely. New York state started testing a digital “Excelsior Pass” at the end of March, using a secure QR code to provide information.
Officials said the technology doesn’t store or track private health data within the app.
Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.
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