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Vaccine passports not arriving — or required — in Illinois, Pritzker says

Instead of a passport, the governor said residents across the state will be provided with something more akin to a doctor’s note — and only if they ask for it.

An employee demonstrates the HELIIX Health Passport at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas earlier this month. Such vaccine passports won’t be required in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday.
An employee demonstrates the HELIIX Health Passport at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas earlier this month. Such vaccine passports won’t be required in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday.
Getty

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is taking a pass on the “Vax Pass.”

Days after Chicago public health officials teased the idea of a COVID-19 vaccine passport that residents would need for admission to select concerts and other crowded summer events, Pritzker on Friday said the state won’t be implementing any mandatory system for Illinoisans to prove they’ve been fully immunized against the coronavirus.

Instead of a passport, the governor said residents across the state will be provided with something more akin to a doctor’s note — and only if they ask for it.

“What we are looking at is making sure that people have available to them some sort of verification if they want it, only at their own behest,” Pritzker said at a downstate news conference.

The governor didn’t provide specifics on the plan, other than to say his office is “looking for some way to have an electronic measure available to [residents] to show when or where they may need it — that’s all.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker listens at a COVID-19 news conference in March.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker listens at a COVID-19 news conference in March.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

“Just something, again, at the user’s desire, you know, if they want to use something like that. We want to make that available, but otherwise it’s not something that we would require,” Pritzker said.

City dwellers won’t be required to get their “Vax Pass” either, even though the idea floated Tuesday by Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady raised the hackles of some privacy-minded residents.

The COVID-19 vaccine passport concept has sparked some protests in the United Kingdom and other nations where it’s being considered as a requirement for entry to airports, arenas and other crowded venues. Federal officials have said there’s no such plan for the U.S.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, shows off her “I got my COVID-19 vaccine” sticker in January.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, shows off her “I got my COVID-19 vaccine” sticker after receiving her second dose in January.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

The city’s pass is actually geared toward young people, with the promise of free concerts or preferred seating at other large gatherings with “a youth flavor” being dangled as an incentive to those who roll up their sleeves.

“We are never going to require vaccination for all Chicago residents,” Arwady said earlier this week. “That will never be a requirement, but I think increasingly, where people are wanting to do things and lower their risk, vaccination is going to be your ticket to doing some of that.”

Arwady said more details on the “Vax Pass” program would be released in the next few weeks.