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White House won't require vaccine passports for travel

March 29, 2021
3 min read
White House won't require vaccine passports for travel
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The Biden Administration is throwing cold water on the idea of a federal program for vaccine passports. On Monday, March 29 both the acting head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the White House said there would be no federal mandate for vaccine passports. They also said there were no plans for a vaccine database.

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Several countries and some private companies have already begun experimenting with so-called vaccine passports or immunity passports. The idea is that you carry some kind of digital proof that you've been vaccinated to cross borders or even to get into theaters or concerts. The vaccination cards that many Americans are already holding offer some version of this, but the idea of a digital card has taken hold in the popular imagination.

CDC Vaccination Record Card. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Gu)

Related: CDC pleads with Americans to 'limit travel'

The federal government, however, doesn't seem too keen on wading into the controversy over vaccine passports.

Andy Slavitt, acting director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said during a White House COVID-19 briefing said, "the government here is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of — of citizens. We view this as something that the private sector is doing and will do."

Related: 3 things to know about your vaccination card

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki echoed that in a briefing Monday at the White House:

"Ours will more be focused on guidelines that can be used as a basis. There are a couple key principles that we are working from: one is that there will be no centralized, universal federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential; second, we want to encourage an open marketplace with a variety of private sector companies and nonprofit coalitions developing solutions; and third, we want to drive the market toward meeting public interest goals."

Slavitt said, "What's important to us, and we're leading an interagency process right now to go through these details, are that some important criteria be met with these credentials."

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Related: Your guide to digital passports

It comes the same day that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he's taking executive action against vaccine passports. The Republican governor said:

“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine, just simply to participate in normal society,”

It's unclear what DeSantis can do to restrict private companies or countries for that matter from developing or using vaccine passports.

Featured image by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.

Featured image by CDC Vacination Record Card. (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Gu)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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    670-850
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Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
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  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees