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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Europe seems poised to set the global standard for vaccine passports, now that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has signaled that vaccinated Americans will be allowed to travel to the continent this summer.

Why it matters: Opening up travel to vaccinated Americans will bring new urgency to creating some kind of trusted means for people to prove they've been vaccinated.

The big picture: There will probably never be a single credential that most people use to prove they've been vaccinated, for every purpose.

  • But the EU's system will help set a standard for a proof of vaccination that's both easily accessible and difficult to forge.
  • The U.S. is being closely consulted on the European passport, so any future American system will likely use similar protocols.

Details: Informal mechanisms like simply asking someone whether they're had a shot can suffice in many situations. A system for international travel will likely be far more stringent. And there's a wide middle, too.

  • Other activities that don't need the same rigorous standards as international travel could rely on the CDC's vaccination cards; options like a printed QR code, similar to what's been proposed by PathCheck; or a digital QR code, like the ones created by CommonPass or the Vaccine Credential Initiative.
  • There may be some state-issued credentials, like the Excelsior Pass in New York.
  • A national credential is theoretically possible, and could be linked to the biometric information that already exists on many chipped passports — the World Health Organization is working with Estonia to develop something along those lines — but that would meet steep political resistance in the U.S.

The bottom line: The world of vaccine passports is almost certainly going to end up as a mishmash of different credentials for different activities, rather than a single credential used by everybody for everything.

Go deeper: Americans will likely have to navigate a maze of vaccine "passports"

Go deeper

Aug 4, 2021 - Health

New York City revives vaccine passports

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New York City yesterday became the first city in the U.S. to require proof of coronavirus vaccination for indoor dining and other leisure activities, a measure popular among public health experts but previously squashed by political backlash to "vaccine passports."

Why it matters: Employers and now local governments are starting to ensure that remaining unvaccinated will have consequences for everyday life, testing the resolve of those who say nothing could persuade them to get a shot.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

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