Some worry a NJ COVID vaccine passport could soon be coming
New Jersey residents can now download the new Docket app that lets you conveniently store your COVID vaccination information on your phone, or retrieve it if it was lost or damaged. But some people are voicing concern about the app and how it could be used in the not-too-distant future.
New Jersey has not announced any plans to create a COVID passport system, but Sue Collins, the co-founder of the New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice, said the rollout of the app is very concerning because it raises privacy questions and sets the stage for vaccine passport system to be launched.
“They’ve developed a product that they want everyone to take,” she said. “And so they’re going to zero in on what each individual’s Achille's heel is and focus on that until people acquiesce and accept this product.”
She said with this app we are putting the government “kind of in control of people’s medical records, and what that enables you to do or not do and what levels of society you may or may not be able to participate in.”
During the Docket announcement on Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the app is an easy electronic way to keep your vaccination card information handy without having to carry the paper version around with you, and they stressed this is not a COVID vaccine passport.
Collins said it’s worrisome if a COVID vaccine passport system is enacted.
“If you want to work, if you want to go to school, if you want to get on an airplane, if you want to check into a hotel, you need to do this potentially," she said.
Right now airlines operating within the United States do not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, but some entertainment venues are asking ticketholders to provide proof they’ve been vaccinated or tested negative, and many foreign countries now require the same kind of proof.
Collins pointed out some people who have had COVID have a natural immunity and may choose to not get a vaccine but may feel pressured to do so if the app becomes part of a passport system.
She also said getting vaccinated and instituting a COVID vaccine passport system may provide a false sense of security for people "when we know that people who get vaccinated can also get COVID.”
A recent New Jersey Health Department analysis determined vaccinations prevent more than 99.9% of COVID infections, and the vaccines are even more effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalization.
State Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland, said “we need to be vigilant to ensure this app doesn’t suddenly morph into a vaccine passport that people are forced to display everywhere they go.”
"While Gov. Murphy insists the app is not a vaccine passport, it could likely be used for that purpose should he change his mind, New Jersey is doing just fine without it," Testa said in a written statement.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com