As state hopes to implement vaccine passports, some raise concerns over privacy

Updated: Apr. 18, 2021 at 5:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lt. Gov. Josh Green hopes to roll out a pilot program for vaccine passports for inter-island travel by May 1, but not everyone is on board with the idea.

While details on how vaccine passports would work are still being finalized, attorney Jim Hochberg said it could set off privacy issues.

He said people need to realize that all COVID vaccines are only approved for experimental use right now.

“This is not like measles, mumps, flu vaccines, this is let’s make one and see what happens and then we’ll submit for full approval, like those other ones already have,” said Hochberg.

“People have to realize they’re in an experiment.”

Unless you have a medical or religious exemption from getting your child vaccinated, Hochberg said flu, mumps and measles vaccines are required in schools because they are fully approved.

But as COVID-19 vaccination rates accelerate, governments are looking into implementing vaccine passports.

In Hawaii, the state said proof of vaccines would allow travelers to avoid COVID testing or quarantine.

If you don’t want to get vaccinated, travelers have the option to get a pre-test.

“I would wait until the vaccine was no longer under emergency with authorization to even begin considering a policy like this,” said Joe Glenn, a volunteer of Aloha Freedom Coalition.

Glenn sees the vaccine passports as a form of coercion.

He’s concerned about the privacy issues and what could come next.

“It’s an entryway into the government, first of all, to segregate citizens,” said Glenn. “But second of all, really opens up a Pandora’s box -- all the information they can get about us.”

“We have privacy rights. When you have to disclose your medical information, to go to something, you know, a restaurant, get on an airplane, whatever, that’s a privacy issue,” said Hochberg.

In an article by the ACLU, they point our several factors to consider on vaccine passports.

“We don’t oppose in principle the idea of a requiring proof of vaccination in certain contexts, but given the enormous difficulty of creating a digital passport system, and the compromises and failures that are likely to happen along the way, we are wary about the side effects and long-term consequences it could have. We will be closely watching developments in this area.”

“I think everybody needs to do their research, because you’re participating in a medical experiment,” said Hochberg. “And once you’ve done it, you can’t undo it.”

Hawaii News Now reached out to the lieutenant governor’s office, who said more details on the pilot program will be shared this coming week.

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