“Un-American” – Corona vaccination card divides the USA
Status: 09:49 a.m.
New York became the first US state to introduce a vaccination card – thus fueling the debate about such certificates. Some welcome the QR code, others speak of a threat to civil liberties. President Biden is holding back.
Caroline Baron is very excited about her corona vaccination card. “I’m proud to have been vaccinated and I’m happy to be able to show it,” said the New Yorker during a concert visit. “It will make things easier, especially with things like that,” adds the filmmaker, referring to her first cultural event in more than a year.
The state of New York was the first and so far only US state to introduce a digital passport with a QR code, which serves as proof of a corona vaccination or a negative test. Such vaccination cards are also planned in the EU, especially for travel. Israel already has a so-called green passport, which gives vaccinated people access to cafes and restaurants, for example.
In the USA, too, where the vaccination campaign is advancing at a breathtaking pace, there is increasing discussion about such certificates. Many consider it the best way to return to normal quickly and safely. But vaccination cards are highly controversial – and some even fear a new culture war, such as when wearing protective masks.
Republican governors like Ron DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbott in Texas have already banned authorities and companies from issuing or requesting proof of vaccination. DeSantis speaks of an imminent threat to civil liberties and privacy. South Dakota’s conservative governor Kristi Noem even described vaccination cards as “one of the most un-American ideas in the history of our nation”.
President Joe Biden is clearly trying to stay out of the debate. His spokeswoman Jen Psaki made it clear this week that there will be no uniform vaccination card at the federal level. The private sector can promote such ideas – for example, so that people can safely go to sports stadiums and cinemas again. The White House only wants to put forward guidelines to ensure the protection of privacy and to prevent “unfair” practices or “discrimination”.
Because vaccination cards raise many questions. Can someone be asked to provide proof of vaccination if there is no compulsory vaccination? Can vaccinated people be given preference over non-vaccinated people? What about people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons? And what about data protection?
The vaccination cards are “politicized”, complains Meyer
Vaccination records, states the New York Times, could become a “ticket to freedom for millions of vaccinated people worldwide”, but they would also “raise huge ethical questions”.
Despite the concerns and resistance, numerous companies and initiatives are already working on vaccination certificates in the USA, the country with the most corona deaths worldwide. According to its head Paul Meyer, the ID of the Commons Project, which specializes in digitally linking health data, is already being used by a dozen international airlines. There are also talks with the European Union.
Meyer complains that vaccination cards are “politicized” in the USA. He describes the certificates as an opportunity for “freedom to return to a normal life” – and “freedom from lockdown”.
Marcus Plescia of the Association of US State Health Authorities believes that most people see vaccination records as useful, at least in some situations. “I think some reluctance should go away when people see that there are many things you can do once you are vaccinated.”
With filmmaker Baron and her partner, who are going to a concert in New York for the first time since spring 2020, no persuasion was necessary when it came to vaccination certificates. “We signed up right after we got the vaccination,” she says.