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NC's Republican Senate Leader: Vaccine Passports Are A 'Ridiculous Concept'

The idea of vaccine passports is "a ridiculous concept," North Carolina's top Republican state senator said via a spokesperson Thursday, in response Gov. Roy Cooper's comments that he is in discussions about creating a standardized record for people to prove they have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Senate leader Phil Berger, through spokesperson Pat Ryan, said, "People should not be required to walk around with papers showing their personal health information just to go about their daily lives."

While visiting in Gastonia on Wednesday, Cooper said there have been discussions about having a "vaccine passport" that would easily identify them as having been vaccinated for COVID-19.

“We want to be able to help people to be able to show others that they have gotten the vaccine because a lot of people are going to want that,” he said after a tour of a vaccination site at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia. “So we are figuring that out now and we’re having discussions about the best way to do that.”

New York recently released its vaccine passport, called the Excelsior Pass. It’s an electronic health certificate that shows a code on someone’s phone. A business can then scan the code to see if the person has been vaccinated.

In Israel, people who have been vaccinated can show a Green Pass.” The European Union is also creating its own vaccine passport.

Berger also said the idea of a "vaccine passport" is in opposition to Democratic concerns about requiring voter ID.

"This question also puts the lie to the liberal argument that voter ID is 'racist,'" Berger said in a statement through Ryan. "They argue that requiring a photo ID to vote would harm non-white citizens, yet simultaneously argue that requiring a new government-produced ID in order to go about their daily lives is 'equitable.'

"And if they attempt to resolve that contradiction by having no identity verification requirement for a vaccine passport, then how can anybody even trust the validity of the passport? It just makes no sense."

Copyright WFAE 2021.  For more go to WFAE.org

Jodie Valade is a Digital News and Engagement Editor for WFAE. Since moving to Charlotte in 2015, she has worked as a digital content producer for NASCAR.com and a freelance writer for publications ranging from Charlotte magazine to The Washington Post and New York Times. Before that, Jodie was an award-winning sports features and enterprise reporter at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. She also worked at The Dallas Morning News covering the Dallas Mavericks -- where she became Mark Cuban's lifelong email pen pal -- and at The Kansas City Star.