In a press briefing earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki noted the federal government would offer guidelines for developing vaccine passports – digital certificates of COVID-19 vaccination status – but it would leave to each state if and how such a system would be developed.
CivicScience surveyed Americans 18 and older on their opinion of the administration’s decision and the results were fairly split: 41% show support while 39% express opposition.
And, when filtered by political affiliation, as usual Conservatives and Liberals generally fall on either side of the argument. Conservatives more than Liberals are supportive of the government delegating vaccine passport systems to states.
Approval of the decision is also evenly supported by Americans under 55. Those 55 and older are slightly more likely to disagree with leaving the setup and management of vaccine passports to states. If there is one report that has appeared consistently throughout the pandemic it’s that increased age tends to correlate with increased vulnerability to the virus. It’s possible that those over 55 would feel more confident in their protection against the virus should the government take over and establish a passport system for travel and a variety of other activities. Either that, or they don’t support vaccine passports at all.
Previous CivicScience research from June 2020 painted a picture of Americans overall wary to provide health data to an app in order to travel by plane. Nine months later, as comfort traveling by plane continues to increase, the majority of the general population believes a vaccine passport should be required to travel both nationally and internationally.
While not to the same degree as international travel, U.S. adults support the idea of vaccine passports also being required to attend school, large events, and even go to the gym.
People who say they are comfortable traveling now (generally a sentiment visible among Conservative-leaning Americans) are in agreement with the government’s decision to allow states and the public sector to set up and manage vaccine passport systems.
Those with no strong opinion are more concentrated among survey respondents who said they wouldn’t be comfortable traveling or going on vacation in six or more months. Perhaps the concepts of travel and vacation are just too distant for these respondents, and that they don’t feel the need to consider potential technology that would give them the technical freedom to resume some pre-pandemic normalcy.
Overall, a state-run digital passport system for tracking vaccinations and therefore monitoring who can go where and do what is supported by almost a majority of U.S. adults at this time. While originally concerned about disclosing health data in order to travel, some people seem to have either grown comfortable sharing their vaccine status or don’t consider their vaccine status something to keep secure, especially if it lets them go about life with less worry and fear.