County and Regional Leaders Explore COVID-19 Vaccine Passports

COVID-19 vaccine passports may be in our future, Montgomery County leaders said during a virtual media briefing Wednesday.

“We’re having discussions with other regional leaders and I support the development of a regional or statewide vaccination passport,” County Executive Marc Elrich said. It would not be effective in just one county, he said.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced proof of vaccination will soon be required to enter venues like indoor restaurants, gyms and theaters.

With more than 85% of adults in Montgomery County fully vaccinated, Elrich wants residents to be able to go out and patronize establishments. Vaccine passports could be a solution.

“So, this would not have much of a hit on businesses,” Elrich said. “What it would do is prevent people who aren’t vaccinated from going into those settings.” He said he heard from some businesses that support the idea.

“For one thing, it would make their other customers more comfortable.” He said some are still staying away from places like restaurants if they feel vulnerable.

“So I suspect with our high number of adults vaccinated, that the places that we would impose such a mandate — their owners would be thrilled because they could tell their patrons that everybody in this place has been vaccinated. That would be a big deal, I think.”

“This is not such a strange thing to do,” Elrich said. “Schools have vaccine requirements for students. So, we’re not entering new ground with this.”

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments plans to convene a meeting this week,  according to Acting Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Earl Stoddard. He agreed that a regional approach to a vaccine passport is ideal. He said that if the measure is implemented, he thinks the requirement would not apply to those who are ineligible for COVID-19 vaccination, like children under 12 years of age. Elrich agreed.

Stoddard emphasized the discussion is still a work in progress.

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