Biden administration taking "very close look" at vaccine passports for international travel

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Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday told ABC's "Good Morning America" that the U.S. is "taking a very close look" at the possibility of requiring vaccine passports for international travel.

Why it matters: While vaccine passports could be seen as helpful to reopening international travel, there is no one central international vaccine passport system, making them a target for fraud.

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Driving the news: The European Union and some Asian governments are developing coronavirus vaccine passports that people can access using phone apps in order to "help kickstart international travel," AP writes.

What he's saying: "We’re taking a very close look at that, 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," Mayorkas said.

  • "There’s an underlying point here, of course, which is everyone should get vaccinated," he added.

A DHS spokesperson later on Friday clarified that "there will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

  • 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. 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," the spokesperson added.

The big picture: Vaccine passports have become a controversial topic in the country, with several Republican-led states banning state government and some private business from requiring them.

  • A recent survey by the COVID States Project revealed that 62% people in the U.S. support government-imposed vaccine mandates, while only 27.5% said they support businesses using vaccine passports.

Go deeper: The barriers to vaccine passports

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the DHS spokesperson's clarification.

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