Coping with COVID: Missouri to not issue COVID-19 vaccine passport requirement for travelers

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced he will not require vaccine passports in the state, which serve to verify COVID-19 immunization status. Parson said the option to require one is open to companies in the private sector, though he has no intention of implementing a statewide rule.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he won’t require vaccine passports for travelers in the state, but is comfortable with private companies adopting them.

Vaccine passports, also known as health certificates or travel passes, are documents that show a traveler has been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently tested negative for the coronavirus.

“If the private sector wants to do that, I’m fine with that,” Parson said during a Thursday press conference. “As far as the state goes, we won’t mandate vaccine passports.”

Technology companies and travel-related trade groups are developing and testing various versions of vaccine passports to encourage travel.

Some Republican state senators in Missouri are against the concept as unduly restricting freedom of travel, proposing that the state pre-emptively ban vaccine passports.

State health Director Dr. Randall Williams on Thursday said eventually “there will be more vaccine than demand because of vaccine hesitancy.”

Skepticism about the vaccine is contributing to distribution issues, Williams said, particularly in more rural areas of the state. He said Missouri sends doses to areas with the most vulnerable people, such as seniors. When there’s not enough demand, Williams said the doses are redistributed elsewhere.