Could COVID-19 vaccine passports provide a path back to normalcy?

Could COVID-19 vaccine passports provide a path back to normalcy?

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It could be your ticket back to “normal” life: vaccine passports.

You could need them to get on a plane or go to a concert in the future.

It’s being called the “vax pass.”

New York is the first state in the country to launch a vaccine passport.

The Excelsior Pass proves you’ve been vaccinated or recently tested negative against Covid-19.

The QR code on your phone allows you into events like weddings, concerts, and other entertainment.

Private industries are weighing using a “vax pass” too.

19 News spoke with Ashish Sood, a marketing professor at the University of California, Riverside.

“In some countries, they are using digital solutions, so QR coded, vaccine passports are transferred directly digitally to the person who received the vaccine within minutes of receiving the vaccine,” Sood said.

Sood has studied pandemic lockdowns and restrictions extensively.

He said vaccine passports are like a new product-- how would consumers adopt them?

“The higher the perceived benefit of having the vaccine passport, the faster the adoption process. In this case, there is definitely a distinction in some states which seem to be more pro vaccine, and other states are more against vaccine,” he said.

Sood sees some drawbacks, from data privacy to theft and forgery.

He said for a “vax pass” to be successful, it must be used widely, which could be an issue.

“The perceived threat has to be really tangible and relatively imminent. And that unfortunately, at least among a large amount of Americans, is actually becoming less and less,’ Sood said.

White House officials said they’ll leave vaccine passports to the private sector.

Sood expects certain industries would be more likely to use them, to lift their businesses out of the pandemic slump.

“Other people who are traveling, they have to have a vaccine or show some evidence they are not getting the virus, then I would be more open to that travel. I would say most industries, entertainment industries, travel industries, hotels should be quite positive to it,” Sood said.

But opposition is growing before they even roll out in most places.

Florida’s governor just spoke out against vaccine passports and some Ohio lawmakers want to ban them here.

19 News found local lawmakers believe it’s a violation of our personal freedoms. You can read the story here.

The World Health Organization is against vaccine passports for international travel, reportedly pointing out studies are still being done to see how much vaccines help reduce transmission of the virus.

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