What Are Your Rights? Possibilities of a Vaccine Passport

Recorded on January 6, 2021.

Nearly a year into the pandemic, life has changed for Americans in countless ways. However, a vaccine offers the promise of a new normal on the horizon, including renewed access to travel. Managing partner Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti is on CBS6 to help explain recent talk of a vaccine passport. What are your rights, and the rights of businesses who might want to require them?

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Narrator: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Interviewer: Nearly a year into the pandemic, life, of course, has changed for Americans in countless ways. However, a vaccine on the horizon offers the promise of a new normal, including renewed access to travel. Here to help examine talks of a vaccine passport is managing partner Paul Harding, from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Welcome back, Paul. Happy New Year.

Paul: Happy New Year.

Interviewer: Oh, yeah, we’ll jump right into it. What exactly is a vaccine passport?

Paul: Yeah. So, it is not something anyone’s ever heard of, but it basically is going to be something so if a group of businesses require you to have proof that you had the vaccine, as opposed to shuffling off medical records and worrying about HIPAA violations, you’ll be able to flash a passport, maybe on your iPhone, but showing, “Yes, I have been vaccinated.”

Interviewer: So, what sort of activities are we talking here might require a vaccine passport?

Paul: You know, again, large groups getting together, the ones that kind of sink in the most travel, you know, bus travel, airplane travel, where people are going to get together and breathe each other’s air, you know, more readily, I think those are going to be the hot buttons, but it really could end up anywhere.

Interviewer: You mentioned, possibly, something that you flash, you know, on your phone? What are we thinking this passport is going to look like, exactly?

Paul: If you can imagine, like a QR code. You know, when you go to scan your stuff at the grocery store and you kind of hold the product so it kind of is interpreted by the reader, it’d be that kind of a thing. So, you’d kind of walk in, hold up your iPhone or whatever device you have, or even a piece of paper with a QR code on it. They can read it, and that would show your picture, would show the vaccine. That’s what we envision, but again, this is all new and breaking conversations.

Interviewer: What about our viewers who don’t want to get vaccinated? Don’t they have a right to travel without, you know, being discriminated against?

Paul: You know, it feels like the answer to that should be, “Absolutely.” Currently, you could have a business and you could say, “Listen, I don’t want you… You weren’t nice to my staff. You can’t come in.” It’s all okay. You can’t violate because of race, religion, creed, sex, and age discrimination. Once you’re not in that realm, currently, private businesses can do it. My guess is, they’re going to follow the leader once some of the businesses decide that this is what they want for the safety of their customers.

Interviewer: All right, Paul, thanks so much for answering our questions today. We really appreciate it. Of course, if you’d like more information on this topic, just head to our website, cbs6albany.com.

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