NC leaders say it’s too early to make call on vaccine passports

North Carolina news

Would you prove you’re vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to go to your favorite restaurant or go to a concert? 

It’s something that’s being discussed around the country and in the Piedmont Triad. Over five million shots have been put in the arms of North Carolinians so far. 

As vaccination efforts ramp up, many people are asking about how life can go back to normal.Digital “vaccination passports” are a potential solution.

Triad leaders told FOX8 it’s too early to make any decisions right now.

A representative with the Tanger Center and Greensboro Coliseum said that they’re keeping an eye on what other event spaces are doing and looking at what other businesses and restaurants decide before making any plans. 

Right now, the representative said they’re not considering requiring proof of vaccinations. 

“I am happy to present a card that said I’ve had both of my shots,” said Zack Matheny, the president of Downtown Greensboro, Inc.

It’s an idea he’s discussed with local business owners.

“Businesses will make their choices based on how they want to run their business,” Matheny said. “It’s a private business. They can do whatever they want to do.”

That includes possibly asking people to show proof of vaccinations before they can come inside.

“You might have some cases where folks will say, ‘OK. Hold on. Either put on your mask or show me you’ve been vaccinated,” he added. 

While nothing has been decided yet, Matheny is on board.

He told FOX8 it might encourage more people to get out and stimulate the local economy.

“I certainly will feel a heck of a lot more comfortable if folks have been vaccinated, and I’m in the room with them,” added Matheny.

But it’s complicated.

“Per their right, it’s hard for a public organization like ours to mandate somebody do something that might be against their personal preference, religion, or otherwise,” he explained.

That’s one of the many issues that Duke University Law Professor Nita Farahany has with the proposed digital vaccine passports. 

During a presentation on Wednesday, she said one of her biggest concerns is equity.

“At this moment, where at least half of the U.S. population do not yet have access to the vaccine, or who aren’t fully vaccinated, what we’ll see is a widening gap. Jobs that were lost during the pandemic will go to people who were able to gain earlier access to the vaccine,” she explained. 

Farahany is also worried about safety and the privacy aspects of sharing personal, medical information.

“These are drugs that don’t have the full regulatory approval yet,” she said. “It’s not just whether or not we have certain information shared and stored with others. It’s the context in which we’re sharing, who has access to it and what protects are in place to safeguard and secure you from unnecessary misuse.”

Farahany said she thinks nothing should happen until most of the population has been vaccinated, and the country is no longer in a panic mode. 

“What I would caution is, in cases of emergencies or in moments of crises are the times when we give up the most rights, and then we can never get them back,” she explained. 

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