DHS Walks Back Mayorkas’ Claim US Taking ‘Close Look’ at Vaccine Passports

DHS Walks Back Mayorkas' Claim US Taking 'Close Look' at Vaccine Passports DHS Walks Back Mayorkas' Claim US Taking 'Close Look' at Vaccine Passports Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Friday, 28 May 2021 02:11 PM

The Department of Homeland Security says there won’t be any federal vaccination database or any mandate that requires people to get a single vaccination credential and there are no plans for anything like a U.S. vaccine passport.

DHS made the announcement Friday after Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas gave a different answer to a question in a TV interview.

Mayorkas had said the agency was “taking a very close look” at the possibility of vaccine passports as the coronavirus pandemic eases and Americans begin to travel overseas.

A DHS spokesperson says the agency is looking at how to ensure Americans traveling abroad have a quick and easy way to enter other countries.

Mayorkas, speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America” ahead of the Memorial Day holiday, was asked about creating the document for flights into and out of the U.S.

“We’re taking a very close look at that,” he said. “One of our principles that has guided us throughout the pandemic is the value of diversity, equity and inclusion, and making sure that any passport we provide for vaccinations is accessible to all and that no one is disenfranchised, and so we’re taking a very close look at that.

He added: “There’s an underlying point here, of course, which is: Everyone should get vaccinated.”

Liza Acevedo, a spokesperson for the department, said later that Mayorkas was referring to work already underway to make sure “all U.S. travelers will be able to easily meet any anticipated foreign country entry requirements.”

There will be no federal vaccination database or a federal requirement for Americans to prove they’ve been vaccinated, Acevedo said.

The White House has regularly dismissed any suggestion that the government would create a federal document certifying vaccination status. “We are not instituting vaccine passports from a federal level,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

U.S. health officials have lifted virtually all restrictions, including most mask mandates, for vaccinated people. That move has left businesses, states and cities with a problem: There’s no way to verify who is vaccinated.

The European Union plans to open up quarantine-free travel for tourists vaccinated with EU-approved drugs, including those used in the U.S., but the U.S. has yet to reciprocate. Some EU countries have already loosened restrictions.

This report is compiled using material from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News.