WASHINGTON - Former Obama health advisor and Obamacare architect Ezekiel Emanuel expressed his disappointment Friday in the Biden administration's decision not to implement a "QR code" based system to track those who haven't received a coronavirus vaccine.
Emanuel cited concerns while appearing on MSNBC over potentially forged proofs of vaccination being used by people who weren't really vaccinated to attend events, travel, and return to work.
Host Andrea Mitchell asked Emanuel how serious the threat of forged vaccination cards was.
"I think it’s a serious threat. I think it's inevitable, and have been saying it for months, that we will be certifying whether people have been vaccinated or not to go to indoor events like theater, or sporting events, or even board airplanes, or return to employment," Emanuel said. "And I understand why the administration really didn’t want to create a large database. I don’t think the privacy is really the concern. I think a lot of people — what they're really worried about is things like exploitation."
He went on to say some serious concerns people have over a tracking database were whether or not it would become commercialized, or if it would be used for reasons other than tracking vaccinations. He added forgery is as much of a concern because he could be at an indoor event where spreading is possible because everyone says they've been vaccinated, but actually haven't.
"There’s no easy solution here, but I do think not doing a national database, whereby the QR code you can actually get in, having that be done by a not-for-profit, making sure it won't be commercialized, I think that would have been the right way to go," he said.
The Biden administration announced earlier in April that "vaccine passports" would not be mandated, and that there would be no database to track who has been vaccinated. The state of New York did, however, create its own version of a vaccine passport called an "Excelsior Pass," which New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D., heralded as "the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening."
Republicans have been largely opposed to the idea of tracking vaccinations, with some state legislators looking to ban any sort of vaccine passport.