European-style vaccine “passes” may be an option for the U.S. in the future, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.
Walensky spoke with CNN’s John Berman one day after the CDC updated mask guidelines for vaccinated individuals. The CDC, after seeing a surge in cases involving the delta variant, now recommends fully vaccinated Americans mask up indoors in high transmission areas of the country. (RELATED: CDC Tells All Students K-12 To Mask Up, Even If Fully Vaccinated)
Walensky explained the decision further Wednesday, asserting that “the science demonstrates” vaccinated people “could potentially give” the virus “to someone else” – although an administration official reportedly told STAT news that health experts don’t have studies actually proving that vaccinated people are passing on the virus.
When probed about next steps, Berman wondered if the CDC would ever “lean into” vaccine passes. Some countries in Europe now require “health passes,” or vaccination certificates, to gain access to things like bars and restaurants. The decision has prompted protests and backlash, with thousands taking to the streets in France earlier in July to voice opposition to the move.
“You know, I think some communities are doing that and that may very well be a path forward,” Walensky declared. “I do want to sort of comment that in some fully vaccinated venues, if they’re unmasked and there are a few people who are transmitting there … Overall it’s so very critical to just get the huge amount of disease in some of these areas down.”
The White House has distanced itself from backing a country-wide vaccine mandate, although White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that private companies can require employees to get vaccinated. President Joe Biden reportedly plans to announce a vaccine mandate for federal employees Thursday, CNN reported. If individuals opt out of getting the vaccine, they will need to undergo testing and will require mitigation requirements, the network added.
The Department of Defense (DoD) will reportedly be the exception to this rule, as Biden has been reluctant to push military members into getting the shot.
“We have a pandemic because the unvaccinated and they’re sowing enormous confusion,” Biden previously said.
On the subject of implementing restrictions for unvaccinated Americans, the press secretary wouldn’t give a direct answer Monday. Psaki dodged when asked whether Biden favors restrictions for unvaccinated people regarding participating in activities like going to the movies and restaurants, instead simply noting that the president follows CDC guidelines.
“The president favors using the CDC as his North Star, and what the health and medical experts are going to advise on how to save more lives and protect people,” Psaki said.