Would NJ ever require a ‘vaccine passport’ for concerts, events, restaurants?
There’s a looming battle ahead in New Jersey over the idea of a vaccine passport, which would be some kind of document that would certify someone has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Supporters argue it could help the nation get back to a greater state of normalcy more quickly, allowing theatrical performances, concerts and other indoor and outdoor venues to resume operations without widespread fears of coronavirus infection.
But those who oppose the idea have said it presents ethical questions — and there are practical considerations as well, including the probability of counterfeit vaccine passports.
Also, no one is sure how long the vaccine will be effective or whether one vaccine will last longer than another.
And then there’s the question of whether this be a state-by-state program or something rolled out by the federal government.
Gov. Phil Murphy, however, said it’s an idea worth exploring.
“I’d be open-minded to that,” he said last week. “But I guess the problem I have, (is) you also have folks that would create some type of fraudulent passport of some sort.”
Murphy noted another potential problem is the argument being made by some that individuals attending a show or a concert should also be required to present proof of a negative COVID test within the past 72 hours, and they say perhaps that kind of rule should also be applied when going to a restaurant or other public place.
State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that talking about a vaccine passport now is a bit premature because it's too soon to say how effective the vaccines will be.
“There will come a time when we’ll have all that information and a vaccine passport may make more sense at that point in time,” she said.
New Jersey COVID medical advisor and former state epidemiologist Dr. Eddy Bresnitz believes the idea of a COVID vaccine passport is intriguing.
“I think it’s a tool we certainly should be looking at,” he said. “I’m not sure when it’s going to be ready for prime time but there are number of companies working on that.”
He noted the main COVID check being performed is taking people's temperature, which may or may not indicate whether someone is infected with the virus.
“I think there is a place for passports as long as the issuing of those are done in a responsible and legal fashion,” he said.