Alejandro Mayorkas: U.S. Taking ‘a Very Close Look’ at Vaccine Passports for International Travel

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 1: Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on March 1, 2021 in Washington, DC. Mayorkas discussed the Biden administration's plans for overhauling immigration policy. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the United States is taking a “very close look” at the idea of requiring vaccine passports for travelers coming in and out of the U.S., according to reports.

Speaking to ABC on Friday, the Homeland Security secretary appeared open to the concept of requiring a vaccine passport for international travelers. He appears to justify the idea with his devotion to ensuring that “the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion” are central in vaccine distribution. In other words, officials must ensure that “any passport that we provide for vaccinations is accessible to all and that no one is disenfranchised,” Mayorkas said.

“Everyone should get vaccinated,” he added.

Republican officials have already begun to take action against the use of vaccine passports. Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a measure, Senate Bill (SB) 2006, banning the use of vaccine passports in the Sunshine State.

“In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision,” Desantis said at the time.

His administration is currently in the midst of a battle with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the cruise industry over vaccine passports, as the CDC recently cleared a Celebrity Cruises ship to set sail out of Port Everglades. However, all guests 16 and over must be “fully vaccinated.”

“Companies doing business in Florida, including Celebrity Cruises, should immediately cease to impose such discriminatory policies upon individuals,” DeSantis said, noting they will be subject to a $5,000 fine “each time they require a customer to present a ‘vaccine passport’ for service.”

“We look forward to seeing Celebrity Cruises set sail in compliance with Florida law,” the governor added.

Similarly, in the neighboring state of George, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) took action, signing a measure effectively banning the use of vaccine passports in the Peach State — a protocol which extends to schools, kindergarten through the university level.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has also signed a measure, Senate Bill 267, preventing vaccine passports in the Yellowhammer State.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Vaccine Monitor’s May survey shows that one in five Americans do not plan to get vaccinated, with seven percent of those indicating they only will “if required.” The other 13 percent said they will “definitely not” get vaccinated.

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