Apr 12, 2021 - Health

Former FDA chief offers reality check on vaccine passports

Illustration of a syringe checking off boxes on a list

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There's a clear use case for some sort of trusted, digital proof of vaccination, but it probably wouldn't be an all-encompassing "passport," necessary for any number of everyday activities, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb argues in a WSJ op-ed.

What they're saying: "Some have panned this as a way of denying Americans access to restaurants or other businesses," he writes. "It's more likely to allow Americans to visit places they otherwise can't, such as nursing homes or hospitals that aren't allowing family members."

Why it matters: Vaccination data isn't easily accessible — some of it belongs to insurers, some to state databases, and those systems don't always communicate well with each other.

Making matters worse, the inevitable forgeries of paper vaccine cards are now a widespread reality. Scores of fraudulent vaccine cards are available for sale on Etsy, eBay, Facebook and Twitter, the New York Times reports:

  • "One Etsy seller, who declined to be identified, said she had sold dozens of fake vaccine cards for $20 each recently. She justified her actions by saying she was helping people evade a 'tyrannical government.' She added that she did not plan to get inoculated."

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