We all know what a normal passport is for, international travel requires that all citizens of all sovereign nations hold a passport when traveling between countries. However with the pandemic entering its third year, many jurisdictions within the United States have been requiring citizens to vaccinate to access certain amenities. Some countries have even begun issuing vaccine mandates for all tourists looking to travel to their territory. The colloquialism for this vaccine requirement is called a “vaccine passport”.
With the omicron variant escalating case numbers to those unseen since 2020, there are worries that the vaccine passport requirements might expand. There are even some worries that the current presidential administration might expand the requirement to all domestic travel. Let’s take a closer look at the why’s and where’s of vaccine passports, and how you can comply or avoid having to use them.
Vaccine Passports and Private Business
For those in some states, vaccine passports are becoming required for entry to some restaurants. These requirements are only present in more Covid cautious states, such as New York and California. In states like these, you might even be required to carry around your vaccination card to enter restaurants. However don’t be surprised if private businesses require the usage of a vaccination card to gain entry into their business regardless of mandates.
Government powers aside, private businesses have the right to deny service to anyone for any reason that doesn’t discriminate against one’s race/religion/or sexual orientation. Not only that, but the supreme court has struck down religious exemptions to various vaccine mandates across the country. What that means is that even if you believe you are being discriminated against for not following a private business’s covid safety guidelines, if you’ve not been vaccinated for a religious reason, your case won’t hold any water in court or with the police.
The bottomline when it comes to private enterprise is that the owner of said business can ask you to comply with whatever guidelines they wish for you to receive service. In most cases, nothing is compelling you to use their business’s services, and as such you aren’t going to be able to argue your way around a private business’s self-imposed mandate regardless of what the state law says.
Vaccine Passports and Travel
Thus far, airlines have begun to scale back their initial pandemic safety incentives. Delta for example initially kept the middle seat open in every row for about a year, and what a good year that was for Delta passengers. Things have unfortunately gone back to normal for Delta, and while you are still required to wear a mask at all times, you’ll be butting elbows with your fellow passengers one again. One thing they haven’t instituted as of yet is a vaccination requirement.
However many safety concerns, especially around the most recent holiday season, have begun to question this decision. In fact many are calling for vaccination requirements for all flights, both foreign and domestic. Airlines are no doubt delaying this for as long as possible, as alienating potential passengers would be a disservice to shareholders. Not only that, but the string of violent assaults against flight attendants and other staff has created an environment where instituting even stricter requirements might just escalate the number of violent cases further.
All this is to say that airlines probably won’t be trying to enforce vaccine card requirements unless the federal or state governments began demanding it. Airlines already have to follow these guidelines when flying to foreign countries that do have vaccination requirements. Should case numbers not die down, you could expect similar requirements to be instituted in the United States.
Avoiding Vaccine Passport Requirements
If you are dead set on avoiding the vaccine and furthermore the vaccine passport requirements we just outlined, you have some options. For one, several states have very lax covid policies, instead deciding to give civilians the freedom to decide their own level of risk exposure to the virus. States like Florida for example have next to no restrictions on travel and have been very lenient with mask mandates during the duration of the pandemic.
When it comes to avoiding constant testing and international vaccination requirements, the simple solution is to fly domestically. There are several US territories that while exotic, still don’t require a vaccine passport. Not only that, but they won’t require a US passport either. If you were looking into traveling to the Bahamas or anywhere in the Caribbean, why not try Puerto Rico for example? It’s still part of the United States, so it has plenty of infrastructure for handling tourism, but you also benefit from not having to do all the pre-flight testing you might have to do when flying abroad. Not only that, but the money you spend in a US territory stays within the US economy, so it’s a win-win!
One thing we will definitely caution against is the purchasing of an illegal vaccination card. It’s fine if you decide not to get vaccinated, it means you won’t be able to access certain businesses or fly abroad in some cases, but it’s your decision at the end of the day. What isn’t okay is using a fraudulently acquired vaccination card to gain access to amenities you’ve been denied. Doing so is a federal offense carrying a penalty of up to 5 years in prison. The pandemic may have everyone feeling a little trapped at home, but being trapped in prison is a whole other level.
When You do Have Your Vaccine Passport
If you already have both vaccines you basically have your covid passport. The vaccination card you received at the time of receiving your first dose will be what you show to various authorities who demand it. If you lose your vaccination card at any point, you can always request a new one from your vaccine provider. The CDC does not keep a record of who has or hasn’t received the vaccine, meaning that there is no online database the government has to track vaccinations, only smaller databases provided by medical practitioners. That means you’ll want to hang on to that card to avoid any delays when it comes to receiving a new one!
While it isn’t as sophisticated as the schengen-area vaccine passport which has an entire database and digital system for the recording and tracking of vaccination, that vaccination card is just as good. You can use it to prove your vaccination status to any relevant authorities.
When a Vaccine Passport Isn’t Enough
However, having a vaccine passport usually isn’t nearly enough for travel, you’ll also need a US Passport! If you’ve got plans to travel in 2022 and you haven’t applied for your passport yet, we recommend that you get started. Passport processing times are currently taking months, and appointments at local passport offices and State Department Agencies are long.
If you can’t wait months or apply locally, try applying with The Passport Office. Our private service guarantees the delivery of your passport within the time frame you select. Not only that, but we are one of the few online and in-person rush passport providers that offers new passports and child passports in the Tampa area. While others can only assist with the processing of passport renewals, The Passport Office of Tampa provides concierge service to those applying for their first time. So whether you are a seasoned traveler, or boarding your first plan in two weeks, we can help expedite your passport application in record time.