Do Americans Need a Vaccine Passport for Interstate Travel?

No.

A widely shared Instagram post claims that “Americans need a vaccine passport for interstate travel,” even though, “illegal immigrants are pouring” through “our open borders without any type of passport.” 

These claims are false. 

Any measure that regulated interstate travel would have to come from the federal government. The Biden administration has made it clear that there will not be a federal mandate for COVID-19 vaccination verification, otherwise known as a “vaccine passport,” but instead any restrictions would come from the private sector. 

During a White House press briefing on March 29, Andy Slavitt, acting director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, explained that a “vaccine passport” would not be instituted by the federal government: “The government here is not viewing its role as the place to create a passport, nor a place to hold the data of citizens,” he said. “We view this as something that the private sector is doing and will do.”

While there are no government mandates for COVID-19 vaccination “passports,” there might be some travel restrictions spearheaded by private companies. For example, certain cruise ships will require vaccines.Forbes reports that American Cruise Lines, American Steamboat Co. and UnCruise Adventures will require proof vaccinates once they start up again. However, proof of vaccination or a “vaccine passport” is not currently required to board a plane, for either domestic or international flights. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki further emphasized that “vaccine passport” requirements will be “driven by the private sector.” She also said that there will be “no centralized, universal federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

The second claim in the post that “illegal immigrants are pouring thru [sic] our open borders without any type of passport at all” is also false. 

As mentioned in an earlier fact check, “illegal immigrants” are not “pouring” through an open border. As previously explained: “Despite some reversals in Trump-era policy and the decision not to expel “young vulnerable children,” U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has reported a number of expulsions under Title 42. For context, Title 42 allows for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to quickly expel migrants at the Mexican border as a public health measure. Title 42 was instituted by Trump at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. In February 2021, authorities at the border expelled more than 70,000 people trying to cross the border under Title 42.”

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