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State official believes private vaccine passports could soon be a thing in California

Dr. Ghaly said that though the state was not moving in that direction, Californians could still see a vaccine passport in the form of an app.

CALIFORNIA, USA — The state of California may not be implementing a vaccine passport, but there may still be and app or other credential for people to prove they are fully vaccinated against coronavirus coming soon.

Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency Dr. Mark Ghaly spoke to Public Policy Institute of California president and CEO Mark Baldassare on Friday about how vaccine passports may still come about and what they might look like. 

"We're also very cognizant that we'll see apps on our phone, things created so that those who want to have their vaccine verification at their finger tips, they can have it," Ghaly said. 

Like the federal government and some other U.S. states, California is not moving toward a statewide vaccine passport concept, but "we are following the conversation very closely," and the agency would likely put out some considerations on good practices to create that system," Ghaly added.

"In many ways, that will not be local government making that decision, but we believe local business owners and entities making that decision," Ghaly said. 

Vaccine passports have seen some controversy. Northern California Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) recently introduced one of two bills that would "prohibit the use of 'COVID Vaccine Passports.'” The bill would prohibit air carriers and Amtrak from denying service "solely because such individual lacks COVID-19 related documentation." 

Proponents of the passports say they could be a way for businesses, event venues, and travel and leisure activities to verify those who are vaccinated and those who are unvaccinated when it comes to COVID-19 precautions.   

The White House previously ruled out creating a national “vaccine passport” for Americans to verify their immunization status, and is also leaving it up to the private sector.

In lieu of a statewide vaccine verification system, starting June 15 the state will allow fully vaccinated people to "self-attest" that they are vaccinated and will not have to wear a mask inside a business in which it is allowed. 

"Having something like the honor system, if you will...that you are actually attesting by either wearing and mask or not wearing a mask, in this case, whether you're vaccinated or not...it can be an effective easy to use tool," Ghaly said. 

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