A Verywell Report: Over Half of Americans Are In Favor of Vaccine Passports

Verywell surveyed 2,000 Americans to learn what's driving vaccine decisions

illustration of women on the beach with mobile vaccine passports

Ellen Lindner / Verywell

Key Themes From Our Survey

  • Vaccine rejection is at an all-time low. 
  • Americans are split on whether they support verifying their vaccination status—through vaccine passports—as they return to public spaces. 
  • People are most likely to support vaccine passports in situations where other forms of verification already exist, like international travel.

Nearly four months after the first COVID-19 vaccines were approved, Americans are increasingly getting accustomed to vaccination, while adjusting to loosening restrictions and business reopenings nationwide.

As more people get vaccinated, fears about the COVID-19 vaccines are reaching all-time lows. According to our latest Verywell Health Vaccine Sentiment Tracker, only 13% of our surveyed audience would definitely not agree to take a free COVID-19 shot. This is the lowest rejector number we’ve seen since starting the survey in December. 

But as a return to pre-pandemic life seems imminent, Americans are on the fence about something new: vaccine passports. Everyone who gets vaccinated receives a vaccine card, but those are easily forged and may be lost or destroyed accidentally. 

Vaccine passports would likely digitize this information. Currently, multiple private sector companies are developing digital systems to collect and verify personal COVID-19 vaccine status and potentially also testing information. The idea is this would live in a digital app the user can present when boarding an airplane or entering a restaurant for indoor dining. But for those without access to smartphones, it could also be a written certificate.

According to our survey:

  • 55% of Americans think that people should have to prove they’ve been vaccinated
  • 28% of Americans reject the idea of having to prove vaccination status
  • 17% of Americans are unsure how they feel about it

The data presented in this article is from nine surveys of 2,000 Americans asked about their thoughts and feelings towards getting the COVID-19 vaccines. We collected the latest data for the week ending on April 9. Our survey sample highlighted four types of respondents based on their answer to whether or not they’d get an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine if it were free and available: 

  • Acceptors: Those who would agree to be vaccinated
  • Rejectors: Those who would not agree to take a vaccine
  • Undecideds: Those who don’t know if they would take a vaccine
  • Vaccinated: Those who have received a COVID-19 vaccination

Why Are People Divided on Vaccine Passports?

While the support for vaccine passports varies by the situation, survey respondents who support vaccine verification are more likely to be vaccinated themselves. They identify more often as Democrats, millennials, and men. Gen Z (people between the ages of 18 and 24) appear more against the idea, which aligns with our previous findings showing that they also tend to be more hesitant toward the COVID-19 vaccines in general.

Based on statements from the Biden administration, there won’t be a federal vaccination verification system or vaccine mandate in our future. However, the U.S. will issue some form of guidance for states and public companies looking to implement a vaccine passport system.

Some states are coming out strong against their implementation. Arizona’s governor signed an executive order barring local governments from making “vaccine passports” a requirement for people to enter businesses or get services. Florida and Texas did the same, and Tennessee’s governor is supporting legislation against it. 

On the other hand, there are states who are already working to implement a version of verification, like New York and Hawaii. Many universities are also requiring proof of vaccination.

Hesitancy toward vaccine passports may also stem from ethical considerations. Requiring proof of vaccination can further place people who don’t have easy access to technology like smartphones at a disadvantage, as many vaccine passports are built around digital apps. It can also potentially punish people who may not yet have easy access to the vaccines or who are wary of the U.S. health system. 

Vaccine passports, specifically those designed as digital apps, raise concerns about the security of a user's medical information. Places that institute verification will likely need to protect users with robust privacy policies.

Vaccine Verification Attitudes Depend on the Situation

In our survey, approval for vaccine verification varied by scenario. According to our data, people are more comfortable with the idea of verification if there’s a precedent for this type of documentation in the space, like:

  • International travel
  • Schools
  • Concerts or sporting event
  • Offices or workplaces
  • Domestic travel

For many respondents, vaccine verification makes sense for air travel or international travel—65% were in favor of vaccine verification to travel abroad. These situations already required health and safety protocols over the past year, like a quarantine period or negative COVID test result.

About half of respondents support vaccine verification for sporting or live music events. Many concert companies and sporting venues are already implementing vaccine verification. Ticketmaster will be checking vaccine status for concerts.

Vaccine Verification Is Not a New Concept

Proof of vaccination is already required in many instances throughout the world. For example, travel to some areas where the Yellow Fever virus is present requires proof of vaccination called International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP or the “yellow card”). 

Schools and workplaces have also historically required certain vaccinations, like tetanus and chickenpox shots. In our survey, 65% of parents favor a vaccine verification system. In many states, teachers were given early priority for vaccination to encourage safely getting back to in-person teaching.

As we approach herd immunity (somewhere in the range of 70-80% of the population fully vaccinated), these questions will be become less pressing. But for now, vaccine passports will be a patchwork of different systems and policies throughout the U.S.

Methodology

The Verywell Vaccine Sentiment Tracker is a biweekly measurement of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors around COVID-19 and the vaccine. The survey is fielded online every other week. The total sample matches U.S. Census estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and region. It consists of 1,000 Americans from December 16, 2020, until February 26, 2020, after which the sample size increased to 2,000 per wave.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States. Updated April 27, 2021.

  2. Britannica ProCon. State-by-State: Vaccinations Required for Public School Kindergarten. Updated August 20, 2020.