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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Gov. Cooper Having 'Discussions' About Creating NC Vaccine Passport

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday his administration is having discussions about creating a vaccine passport.
Steve Harrison/WFAE
N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday his administration is having discussions about creating a vaccine passport.

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday his administration is having “discussions” about creating “vaccine passports” — a standardized record for people to show they have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

The passports could allow businesses to determine who is admitted and who isn’t for events like concerts or perhaps even indoor dining.

President Joe Biden has said the federal government is leaving the implementation of “vaccine passports” up to the states, though his administration is expected to release guidelines soon on ways states can implement them.

The Biden administration has said it doesn’t want to create a federal database of who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t.

Cooper said Wednesday he’s looking into it.

“We want to be able to help people to be able to show others that they have gotten the vaccine because a lot of people are going to want that,” he said after a tour of a vaccination site at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia. “So we are figuring that out now and we’re having discussions about the best way to do that.”

New York state recently released its vaccine passport, called the Excelsior Pass. It’s an electronic health certificate that shows a code on someone’s phone. A business can then scan the code to see if the person has been vaccinated.

In Israel, people who have been vaccinated can show a “Green Pass.” The European Union is also creating its own vaccine passport.

Cooper said he wants to make sure people without phones can also show the passport.

“We want to make sure it’s equitable,” he said. “It would be great to have an app where you could show, but at the same time we know we need paper because a lot of people don’t have phones. We have to make sure this is equitable in the way we do it and respect everyone’s privacy.”

Vaccination passports have become the latest flashpoint between Democrats and Republicans. In Florida, GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he wants to prohibit businesses from using them.

Polls have shown that Republicans are more reluctant than Democrats to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

North Carolina on Wednesday opened vaccines to the rest of Group 4. The state has said it plans to allow anyone ages 16 and older to receive a vaccine starting April 7.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.