Lawmaker wants to prohibit vaccine passports

COLUMBUS — Will you have to carry an electronic “vaccine passport” to get into concerts, clubs and sporting events? New York State is launching the first of the phone apps in the US. It provides documentation that shows you have received your coronavirus vaccine. It may also document that you have recently tested negative for the virus.

The question hit Rep. Al Cutrona, R- Canfield hard and his response was immediate. He doesn’t want it to happen in Ohio. In an interview with News Center 7, Cutrona said he’s working on a bill to be introduced soon in the Ohio House of Representatives to prohibit the government from requiring a vaccine passport.

“To make sure that we don’t have big government coming in and telling you in a new health order, telling health agencies how they should tell businesses how to run their operations,” Cutrona said.

>> Nearly 15 million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines delayed by factory mix-up in Baltimore

New York’s “Excelsior Pass” is described on the state’s web site, epass.ny.gov, as an easy to use, secure site for proof to businesses that a person has been vaccinated or has been tested recently with negative results. The instructions read: “Easily present your Pass at participating businesses and become part of New York’s safe reopening. Businesses will scan your Pass with a mobile device or tablet.”

Some health care professionals say we may see much more use of that kind of technology. Dr. Boyd Hoddinott, Logan County Health Commissioner said proof of vaccination in some countries is common for travelers.

“You might remember we had to have a certificate for smallpox and for yellow fever to get into some countries… you still have to be vaccinated against,” Hoddinott said.

Cutrona said he worries that eventually the data collected from people will be stored and sold for marketing purposes. New York State’s plan expressly states that personal information is protected and kept private.

So far, Cutrona has begun work on his proposal and has asked fellow lawmakers if they want to join as co-sponsors, but formal introduction may be two weeks away.