By Jeff Moore
Earlier this year, Governor Roy Cooper said his administration was exploring the development of a vaccine passport for residents of North Carolina.
“We want to be able to help people to be able to show others that they have gotten the vaccine because a lot of people are going to want that,” the governor said while touring a vaccination site in late March.
Just days later, in early April, New York launched its First in the Nation’ vaccine passport, the Excelsior Pass. California, likewise, launched a digital vaccine passport in June. Other states followed.
The debate surrounding vaccine passports is a sensitive one. Some view the passports as a useful tool to help mitigate the further spread of SARS-CoV2, helping to screen those employees, customers, or clientele deemed ‘safe’ by virtue of vaccination. Still, critics contend that embracing such a system blurs the lines of medical privacy and risks fomenting discrimination between the vaccinated and non-vaccinated that risks creating a two-tiered society.
The split exists largely along partisan lines. In May, six Republican members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation sent a letter to the governor calling on him to reject the creation of vaccine passports, saying such a requirement would be a violation of residents’ constitutional rights.
Fast-forward a few months: residents of and visitors to New York and California are pressured to show their vaccine passports to participate in any number of activities; restaurants and bars, sports and entertainment venues, screen for vaccine credentials; and, in North Carolina, the Cooper administration has just quietly launched its very own state-certified ‘vaccine information card.’
What, exactly, could this mean for North Carolinians, both vaccinated and non-vaccinated going forward? The North Carolina vaccine passport is not mandatory. Notably, neither are those of New York or California; they are not required of every resident by the state. Yet critics worry that may amount to a distinction, without a difference.
The Frequently Asked Questions section of the NC vaccine passport page addresses several iterations of the question, ‘Am I required to show proof of vaccination for ‘X’?” The answer, consistently, is, yes, as long as they are not state entities.
“Employers, businesses, or universities can require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine, or a valid medical or religious exemption.”
Indeed, private institutions such as Elon University and Duke University are requiring students to present proof of vaccination to register for classes, as are many other private schools in North Carolina. However, the state’s public university system necessarily will not require proof for students to remain in good standing.
Will that distinction last? And what about public K-12 schools?
In recent reporting on a local school board vote to remove mask mandates for students and staff, making them optional instead despite the statewide mandate for K-12 schools, the Raleigh News & Observer notes, “Under the plan, students and staff are not required to show vaccination cards, while they can choose whether to wear masks at schools.”
It is unclear why such a requirement is mentioned. For one, no one under 12 years of age is currently eligible for a vaccine.
When it comes to issues like medical privacy and, especially, options for those who have obtained immunity through infection, Jon Sanders, Director of Regulatory Studies for the John Locke Foundation, has more questions than the FAQ page can answer.
“I think it’s an absolute joke that they’re trying to make people feel comfortable that the information is private, after establishing that it’s pretty much anybody’s business to ask,” Sanders said when asked for comment on the recently launched passport. “Furthermore, I would absolutely love for someone to ask why there’s no interest and no way to provide equally valid proof of natural immunity from prior infection, regardless of whether it was officially diagnosed.”
Requiring proof of vaccination to enter a business, event, or university classroom is justified on the basis that those individuals are unlikely to contribute to the further spread of COVID-19, and a state-certified vaccine passport helps facilitate that screening process. When it comes to the previously infected, however, no state-certified tools exist to prove what the National Institutes of Health describes as “durable” long-term immune protection from SARS-CoV2 for those that have recovered from a previous infection.
The COVID infected-and-recovered population is similarly absent in Governor Cooper’s continued push for higher vaccination rates as well. With new emphasis on rising cases of the ‘Delta Variant’ in North Carolina and around the nation, the push for vaccination has regained a sense of urgency. The governor visits vaccination sites nearly every week in an attempt to reach goals his administration set for total vaccination rates, regardless of passing the targeted date.
According to North Carolina’s COVID Dashboard from N.C. Department of Health and Human Service, as of publication, more than half of North Carolinians 12 years and up have received both vaccination doses. This includes nearly 85% of North Carolinians 65 years and older, the most vulnerable demographic.
Yet, despite the introduction of a cash lottery to incentivize more people to get vaccinated, rates in North Carolina have plateaued in recent weeks. Similar trends are apparent around the country, prompting those in national media to probe federal officials about whether they support local vaccine mandates.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the president’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, recently voiced unequivocal support for local vaccination mandates. Pressed for President Joe Biden’s take in the wake of Fauci’s comment, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the president, too, would be supportive of local mandates.
“What Dr. Fauci was conveying is that there will be decisions made by local leaders — just like there will be decisions made by business leaders, by institutional leaders — on how they can keep their communities safe. And we support their right to make those decisions,” Psaki told reporters.
Clear limitations exist in issuing federal vaccine mandates, limitations often lamented by White House officials when discussing the issue. Similarly, Governor Cooper faces limits in issuing statewide mandates for vaccines, or vaccine passports. But if Cooper were to follow the president’s and Fauci’s lead in supporting local mandates, enforcement of said mandates would necessarily require the use of vaccine passports, which the State of North Carolina now offers in official form.
So–I have to show a valid shot record but NOT an ID to vote, what is wrong with all of this.
Yup! Total crazy especially since you have to show ID to get shot… smh
I think you’re confusing federally-mandated Constitutional rights (voting) with private business access.
Mark you’re forgetting the fact this is a state funded/issued vaccine card. This isn’t private business funding/issuing their own vaccine cards for customer use.
The walgreens app also has a tracker that shows if you had your vaccine or not. The democrats have lost their f’in minds. I’m not complying with this administration’s lies.
Mark, owning a fire own is a Constitutional right, but I still have to show an ID to purchase one.
typing too fast.
Time to fire cooper, Cohen and any government official at any level who is pushing for unconstitutional vaccine passports!
As more info is being reported on the dangerous side effects of this shot, it is absolutely crazy we encourage anyone to get it, let alone mandate it! Natural immunity has proven to be a better indicator of immunity as thousands of fully vaccinated people are still getting sick with covid whereas very few, if any, naturally immune people are.
Any biz that requires this passport will be boycotted by me and my family!
This sounds a whole lot like things I learned while in school. Anyone remember learning about a horrible time when uniformed soldiers/special police yelled out SHOW PAPERS! to Jews?
Way past the time to rein in this despot. Berger and Moore along with the other useless idiots simply encouraged this by doing nothing.
Hitler’s Nazi Party tried something similar. Consequently Americans left their homes to stack Nazi bodies all throughout Europe…. Democrats had better remember who they’re trying to push around.
Voter-id first. The citizens of NC have voted in favor of it yet CooCoo Cooper ignores and fights it. No vaccine passport until Voter-id is in place.
@ Jennifer @K The government is not requiring this, a private business might. @K Entering a private business is not a right, voting is.
I get that but it’s step 1 toward vaccine passports everywhere. Look what has happened in the past year… stay home 2 weeks, now mask while still staying home, you can’t work you’re not essential, kids can’t go to school, now everyone get a shot, mail in ballots, stolen elections and now vaccine passports are next. The government is overstepping their role and with each time people let them they take more freedom. People need to stand up and say enough! All of this for a virus that has a 99+% recovery rate and natural immunity somehow doesn’t count anymore… science is no longer credible and I worked in the healthcare field.
We have the right to own fire arms, still need an ID to purchase one.
It’s my business, and if you can’t show you’ve been vaccinated then you can go somewhere else. You don’t have to shop at my business, and I don’t have to let you!!!!!!
Very true… hope that attitude doesn’t cost you your business when people refuse to carry their papers and let commie cooper do tact their lives.
What’s your business so I know where I don’t have put you in danger since I’m not showing a vaccine passport?
If you share with us your business, then we will be SURE to go elsewhere!! TY!
@ Rick — the problem is the voters in NC voted for voter ID a few years back. The people spoke and no one listened! Voting is a right, but it is also the right of everyone to know that elections are fair and ONLY people that should be voting are voting. Parents have to show ID to enter a school building for their safety. They are their children and it is their right, but the school has to have identification!
The Voter ID amendment (as written) was unconstitutional. That’s why we have courts. Just because voters want something, doesn’t mean it is legal
Mike, you are absolutely right. It is your business. I hope and pray the government never has enough control that you are shut down! It isn’t just about COVID, it is about control. The government is slowly closing in!
Vaccine passport? Another step closer to citizenship card.. or chip. “The mark.”
With regard to voter ID…voting is a right, not a privilege like driving is a privilege. The state can issue a driver’s license…but cannot (rather should not be given authoritarian control to) issue a privilege license for a right that we are given by our Constitution.
Considering the amount of people that have died from the vaccine they can keep their vaccine and their Gestapo-like papers as I will not be getting either. If a business says I have to have it to use their services well looks like I’ll not be a customer of theirs. Pretty simple really. But it should bother everyone the steps all levels of government are taking with this. They’ll just keep getting more intrusive on the regular person with every new outbreak till you’ll need a pass just to be outside your own home.
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