An expert in the legal and ethical implications of advanced biotechnologies, Professor Jacob Sherkow spoke with the Illinois News Bureau about the legality and policy implications of vaccine passports. An excerpt from the conversation follows:
Should the U.S. government institute a vaccine passport system?
The first thing to consider is what exactly we mean by a “passport.” Most people associate the word with an allowance to travel. And to a certain extent, the federal government has power over interstate travel and is allowed to implement laws that regulate interstate travel. It has exercised that right by mandating masks on trains, airplanes and interstate bus lines.
But whether it has the power to say you are only allowed to get on an airplane if you’ve been vaccinated remains to be seen. Usually when it comes to public health issues, states have almost plenary power to require vaccines since the decision in the 1905 U.S. Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusetts.
Does the federal government have that power? It’s unclear, but I would imagine that a vaccine passport would meet intense political resistance if it were to become a federal mandate.
Read the full article at news.illinois.edu.