SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – As more people receive vaccinations, the desire to return to semi-normal is greater than ever. Getting access to pre-pandemic activities will likely require proof of vaccination with what’s being referred to as a “vaccination passport.”
“So, we’ve seen the tech companies and some of the travel companies in talks about how to create a universal, for lack of a better word we’ll call it an app, where I can upload my travel documentation. That app is going be smart enough to know what my vaccine documentation means, and then it’s going display an ‘all clear,’” said Skyler McKinley, Regional Director of Public Affairs for AAA.
McKinley says AAA has been anticipating vaccination proof would be part of future travel since the pandemic began.
“We knew there was going to be travel after the pandemic. We knew that demand was going to be high, and we knew that it was going to look different,” he said.
As more people become vaccinated, experts predict the number of people traveling will skyrocket.
“Two things are true today; one, you can’t visit Paris and two, you probably haven’t been vaccinated. If you wait until those things are no longer true, chances are there’s not going to be any cheap flights left,” said Scott Keyes, Chief Flight Expert and Founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights.
Keyes founded his company in Denver five years ago. He not only helps clients stay on top of cheapest fares, but is now helping them understand how to navigate vaccination passports.
“There are a number of international organizations that are working on developing the vaccine passports, and I would expect them to start to come online in the next month or two,” said Keyes.
While there isn’t a universally accepted application to show vaccination proof yet, McKinley believes it will go well-beyond international travel.
“By and large in this country, we cannot require people to get vaccinated. Governments can’t do that. You can’t say you must get this, and probably from a libertarian perspective, from the values that this country was founded on, that makes sense, but also in America we have private companies that can say, ‘if you want to do business with us you’re going to need to follow our guidelines and our risk mitigation,’” said McKinley.
He believes cruiseliners will be among the first businesses to start requiring it and beyond that, vacation destinations, which have typically had tighter restrictions, could require a vaccination passport.
“So, if I want to go visit The Breakers in Rhode Island, which has been traditionally a well-regulated COVID environment, they’re probably going to have more restrictions than if I go to the Badlands in the Dakotas, and that’s just to be expected,” he said.
In Colorado’s mountain communities, where businesses have seen heavy tourist traffic through the pandemic, a vaccination passport could play a role, but on Tuesday, Routt, Summit and Pitkin counties told CBS4 there had been no formal discussions. Many are still focused on vaccination distribution.
“I think that showing COVID vaccination documentation is going to be the next mask wearing. Right now, it’s just something you’re able to do and the next phase will be something you’re required to do,” McKinley said.
From cruises to concerts, the vaccine passport could be the ultimate ticket.
“Personally, I can’t wait to see a live concert again. I really can’t wait. It’s the thing I’m most excited for and if Ticketmaster tells me I have to get my vaccine and upload it to the ticket master app, I’m going to do it because that’s the cost of doing business,” he said.
The World Health Organization recently sponsored a group to develop a digital vaccination passport, and tech companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft are working to make a certificate available.