Hawaii to roll out 'vaccine passport' program by summer

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) on Friday approved a "vaccine passport" program for inter-island travel that could begin as early as May and expand to out-of-state travel by the summer, Forbes reports.

The outlet reports Hawaii is working with the developers of multiple apps including Clear, CommonPass and FirstVitals to help with their pre-flight vaccination verification program. This requirement can be avoided if an individual provides a negative COVID-19 test with 72 hours of departure.

The vaccine passport program is seen by tourism officials as a way to speed up the state's recovery, Forbes notes.

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“Businesses have lost a lot of money during this whole period here so there’s a lot to recoup,” president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association, Mufi Hannemann, told local media.

The idea of vaccine passports has become a hot-button issue for many politicians, with critics calling them discriminatory or privacy violations. Multiple GOP-led states such as Florida, Texas and Idaho have banned the use of vaccine passports, either only by the state or by private businesses as well.

The Biden administration has so far said it will not enact a federal vaccine mandate nor will it maintain a federal database on vaccine status.

However, Forbes notes that many private businesses such as cruise lines and concert venues have created vaccine verification systems of their own in an effort to reopen.

New York became the first U.S. state to launch a vaccine passport program when it launched the Excelsior Pass in late March. The pass can be used at entertainment venues and will allow for larger crowd sizes at concerts and weddings.