“Vaccine certification” requirements were first introduced in the United States in response to smallpox in the 1800s. Today, physicians routinely provide certification that students have received an array of vaccinations that are required in order to attend school or summer camp, or to participate in sports or other group activities. A similar concept -- recently labeled “Vaccine Passports” (“VPs”) -- has been suggested with respect to COVID-19 vaccination, requiring individuals to provide proof of vaccination in order to engage in certain activities, such as indoor dining or shopping, flying on an airplane, or attending school. However, requiring that Americans prove that they have been vaccinated in order to participate in such activities has generated fierce opposition. The success or failure of these initiatives likely rests on a better understanding of the breadth and depth of this opposition, and its basis. Is it simply that the term “vaccine passport” has been politicized? Or is the underlying concept viewed by Americans as problematic? Or, in the wake of a year of lockdowns and mask mandates, are Americans concerned about yet another government mandate?
The purpose of this report is thus to explore two questions. First, is public resistance to vaccine passports mainly due to the politicization of the term itself, or is the public genuinely opposed to any sort of vaccine mandate? Second, do those who oppose vaccine passports object only to the government requiring them, or do they object to any institution, public or private, making them a requirement?