Illinois Won't Require COVID-19 ‘Vaccine Passports,' Pritzker Says

Brian Cassella | Chicago Tribune | Tribune News Service via Getty Images

After New York's rollout of an app that allows residents to prove their vaccination status, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker revealed Friday the state won't create a program for residents to prove they have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pritzker said, however, Illinois may "look for some way to have an electronic measure available" to residents who want a system to show vaccination status.

"That's just something, again, if the users desire, you know, if they want to use something like that," the governor explained. "We want to make that available, but otherwise, it's not something that we would require."

New York's "Excelsior Pass," a government-sponsored vaccine passport, and the first of its kind of the nation, shows whether someone has been vaccinated or recently tested negative for COVID-19.

New York hopes to use the pass to fast-track the reopening of stadiums, theaters and businesses in accordance with state health guidelines until vaccinations reach critical mass, for which the governor put the low threshold around 75 percent.

States like Arizona, Florida and Texas have joined several others that have pushed back against vaccination certification, arguing that it violates privacy and civil rights. The Biden administration has said it won't build a national vaccination app, but private companies are racing to create digital "passports" that show proof of immunization.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week, "Development of a vaccine passport, or whatever you want to call it, will be driven by the private sector." She said the administration does plan to provide recommendations for digital vaccination certificates so there are applicable standards nationwide.

Such "passports," which have been under consideration by the private sector for months, could be scannable QR codes that people could pull up on their phones or simpler green check marks or red X's.

In Chicago, city officials have floated the idea of a "Vax Pass," which would provide vaccinated people with special perks and discounts.

Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, emphasized the "Vax Pass" shouldn't be confused with a vaccine passport. Such a passport, the doctor said, won't be required in Chicago.

Although she said non-vaccinated people will still be eligible to attend concerts this summer, those with the "Vax Pass" could receive limited access, along with other "incentives."

The city's new "Vax and Relax" campaign could also extend to barber shops and salons, giving people the chance to get a free haircut or discount on treatments, according to Arwady. She said vaccinated people could also be allowed to get a closer spot in lines at area driving facilities, grocery stores and laundromats.

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