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With vaccine passports near, Mass. governor voices opposition to mandate

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in a file photo.
State House News Service
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker in a file photo.

A day after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the state may "soon" deploy a digital COVID-19 vaccine passport similar to those in use in other states, his office stressed that the Republican remains opposed to requiring that businesses screen customers for proof of vaccination.

Baker's communications director said in a statement late Tuesday morning that the governor "is not and has never been in favor of a statewide so-called vaccine passport mandate and does not support requiring that businesses or other organizations restrict access based on vaccination status."

"Right now, MA residents can voluntarily obtain proof of their vaccination either in paper form, or electronic form from most but not all vaccine providers such as CVS or Walgreens. The Administration is developing a system for residents, if they choose to, to obtain their digital proof of vaccination if they are unable to obtain it through their vaccine provider," Sarah Finlaw said.

"Currently, some businesses are choosing to screen customers for vaccination status. There is no Massachusetts requirement that these businesses do so. The Administration is working to make it easier for those residents who wish to download this proof of vaccination record if they want to."

In an interview on Monday, Baker said his administration is working with more than a dozen states "to try to create a single QR code that can be used for all sorts of things where people may choose to require a vaccine." Asked how close the tool was to launching here, Baker replied, "soon."

"Here's my QR code," Baker told GBH hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan during the interview, suggesting how a digital vaccine passport might work. "This is my proof that I've been vaccinated, it's easy to access, it's a universal standard."

Some businesses and organizations require customers and attendees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and supporters of a digital passport say it will offer an easier way to prove immunization status than using a paper vaccine card.

Copyright 2021 New England Public Media. To see more, visit New England Public Media.

Chris Lisinski / State House News Service

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