Merrimack Valley senators seek standards for “vaccine passes”

Sen. Barry Finegold File photo
Sen. Barry Finegold File photo

BOSTON –  Sen. Barry Finegold and Rep. Linda Dean Campbell wrote to Gov. Charlie Baker and the White House on Tuesday urging them to work together to develop a framework for “vaccine passes,” even as the Biden administration made clear it would not support a single vaccination verification system.

Finegold and Campbell co-chair the Legislature’s new Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet, and Cybersecurity. Finegold, of Andover, represents Dracut and Tewksbury, plus Lawrence. Campbell is from Methuen.

The two Democrats acknowledged the White House’s opposition to a central vaccine database, but urged it to help states and the private sector develop standards for passes that are “safe and effective.”

“Vaccines will not completely eradicate COVID-19 for the time being, but vaccine passes will allow us to live with the virus without having to impose costly lockdowns. People will feel more comfortable getting on airplanes or going to sports arenas if they know others there have been vaccinated as well. By distributing vaccine passes, we can re-open our economy more fully without compromising public health,” Finegold and Campbell wrote.

Baker has not come down firmly one way or another on the idea of vaccine passes, but Biden press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday made clear the Biden administration “is not now nor will be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.”

“There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential,” Psaki said.

That leaves the development of vaccines passes to states and private companies.

Finegold and Campbell said the state and federal government should work together to develop standards around compatibility, scope, effectiveness, data security, data privacy, fraud, efficiency, affordability, inequity and inclusivity.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported Tuesday that over 1.53 million Massachusetts residents were fully vaccinated.