Gov. Phil Murphy warned about several reservations and “real issues” with a state-level document to indicate proof of a COVID-19 vaccination – commonly referred to as a “vaccine passport” – despite his openness to the idea.
The notion of such a requirement has become politically and culturally polarizing, with GOP-led states like Texas and Florida moving to ban them outright. Several Republican-led efforts in New Jersey would also ban the use.
“There are real issues, including issues of equity,” Murphy told reporters following an unrelated event on April 22 in the Metropark Train Station in Iselin.
“This is like any other government-issued passport,” the governor continued. “And particularly given that we are not there yet on our objectives achieving equity on the vaccine roll-out … we’ll get there, but we’re not there yet, that’s a concern.”
Princeton, Rutgers and Fairleigh Dickinson University are requiring their students to get vaccinated if they want to return to campus this fall, while the New Jersey Performing Arts Center will require patrons to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19 in the past three days.
Stevens Institute of Technology and Montclair State University on April 22 both announced that they’re requiring students to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to campus.
Large-scale COVID-19 vaccines are widely regarded as a vital step to lifting restrictions on businesses, public gatherings and travel, and returning to pre-pandemic life. State health officials are racing to vaccinate enough people to hold back the rebound of the virus driven by several contagious mutations.
Recent health data suggests this latest wave of COVID-19 outbreaks and hospitalizations has hit its peak and could start to trend downward over the coming weeks.
The goal is to fully vaccinate 4.7 million New Jersey adults by the end of June. So far, the state has reached the arms of 6.3 million New Jerseyans, with 2.6 million adults fully vaccinated as of April 22, according to the state’s official COVID-19 data tracker.
Murphy nonetheless has indicated he’s still “open-minded” to such a document.
“Don’t get rid of the card, that’s likely to be something valuable … Laminate it and put it in your wallet,” he said during a mid-March television interview. “There are lots of different potential uses for that, whether it’s going to a sporting event, getting on a plane.”
The White House has said it has no plans to implement a nationwide vaccine verification system, and that a voluntary, opt-in system would likely be run by private sector apps or vaccine cards issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control.