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White House won’t support ‘vaccine passports’: Psaki

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Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Keenan breaks down reasons the government will not take part in vaccine passports.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: With more and more talk-- with more and more people getting vaccines, there's more and more talk about people having vaccine passports, as they're being called, whether it's the little card you get when you get your vaccines or some other maybe even digital version of it.

But the US government is saying now they're not going to get involved if there are going to be these kinds of passports. Our Alexis Keenan has been following this back and forth. And Alexis, you cover legal issues for us. And I imagine there are definitely some legal aspects to these questions.

ALEXIS KEENAN: There are certainly. And these passports around the globe, they're coming in all form, some of them digital, some of them on paper. But yesterday, at least the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, she confirmed that the Biden administration does not support a passport system at all, these federally mandated credentialing systems that would track in theory whether or not Americans had been vaccinated.

And they've been come to be known as vaccine passports because of their potential to govern whether Americans have certain liberties, where they can go, what they can participate in. So here's what the Press Secretary had to say yesterday during a White House press briefing.

JEN PSAKI: Well, let me be very clear on this. I know there's been lots of questions. The government is not now, nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential. There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential. As these tools are being considered by the private and nonprofit sectors, our interest is very simple from the federal government, which is Americans' privacy and rights should be protected, and so that these systems are not used against people unfairly.

ALEXIS KEENAN: Now Psaki acknowledged that private parties in the US, as well as nonprofit organizations, are still considering these types of credentialing systems. But she made it clear that that federal mandate would be off the table. And she cited privacy concerns. Now that doesn't stop, though, state and local governments from adopting their own systems or outlawing them altogether. Texas Governor Abbott has already come out against the idea, while, on the other hand, New York state has rolled out a voluntary system that's on a mobile app. And it's already been used at some event venues.

Now, that leaves, really, employers with, absent a federal mandate, they're going to have to see what their states do. They're really at the mercy of those state governments. And the real controversy here is over both privacy and security of health data, and also human rights. There are concerns that arise around the potential for governments, or even app developers, businesses, law enforcement to use the data for secondary purposes that don't really have to do with keeping their environment safe, and also over those freedoms potentially curtailed and discriminating against those who either cannot or will not get a vaccine.

Now we have one more graphic to show you quickly. And that is the countries around the globe so far that have adopted these kinds of systems or are considering them. You can see the EU, their plans to adopt by the summer of 2021, also thinking that they'll incorporate Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland to participate in that program. You have the UK testing its own system right now.

Israel, way ahead of everybody, already has this green pass that is required. And when you talk about curtailing freedoms, you can see there you need it to go to a hotel, to check into a hotel, to go to a gym, and also to go to a theater. Also, Estonia there, they have plans to adopt by the end of this month. And China has a voluntary system in place that is for international travelers so that their citizens can come and go in and out of the country. guys.