Healthcare

DHS secretary: ‘We’re taking a very close look at’ vaccine passports

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Washington Examiner/Pool

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday that the U.S. is taking “a very close look” at vaccine passports for international travel.

Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Mayorkas was asked about the possibility of vaccine passports for traveling into or out of the U.S.

“We’re taking a very close look at that,” Mayorkas said.

“You know, one of our principles that has guided us throughout this pandemic is the value of diversity, equity and inclusion and making sure that any passport that we provide for vaccinations is accessible to all and that no one is disenfranchised,” he said.

Vaccine passports have become a flashpoint for debate amid the nation’s vaccination efforts. Several GOP-led states have banned local governments and businesses from requiring such proof, arguing that they infringe on the personal right to choose to get vaccinated.

The White House has also said there would be no federal mandate for proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday that the administration’s stance hasn’t changed on vaccine passports.

“The U.S. government recognizes that other countries have or may have foreign entry requirements. We will be monitoring these and helping all U.S. travellers meet those,” Jean-Pierre said. “But there will be no federal mandate requiring anyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

Asked about Mayorkas’s comments, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security clarified to The Hill that he was talking about making sure that Americans meet travel requirements for other countries.

“We’ve always said we’re looking at how we can ensure Americans traveling abroad have a quick and easy way to enter other countries,” the spokesperson said. “That’s what the Secretary was referring to; ensuring that all U.S. travelers will be able to easily meet any anticipated foreign country entry requirements.”

“There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential,” the spokesperson continued.

The comment comes as several countries reopen their borders for international travel. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the European Union and some Asian countries are scrambling to develop passports that users could use from phone apps.

Mayorkas still encouraged Americans to get vaccinated.

“We’ve got vaccination centers everywhere — no more than a few miles from everyone’s homes. And it’s so important to get that vaccine, make one safe, make one’s loved ones and friends safe around you,” he said.

Updated: 1:57 p.m.

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Coronavirus COVID-19 COVID-19 vaccines Karine Jean-Pierre

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