Washington: Health experts are calling on US President Joe Biden`s administration to do more to encourage and promote the use of vaccine mandates and passports amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden administration has repeatedly said vaccine passports will not be implemented at the federal level but has not discouraged individual companies from making the personal choice of implementing one, reported The Hill.

“If a company, a business wants to take steps to keep their workers and their passengers safe, I would think that, from a government perspective, we want to do everything we can to encourage that,” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said recently.

Experts have argued that more vocal support of mandates and passports could help to boost lagging vaccination rates as the country is expected to miss Biden`s July 4 goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adult Americans.

“The Biden administration should not be so squeamish about vaccine verification,” said Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University, while calling for a standardised verification system

“There are a lot of people in the middle. They are not eager to get the vaccine, but they are also not anti-vaxxers. They need an additional push. And that push is still not there, because we have not been requiring proof of vaccination in order to return to normal,” Wen said.

Polls show that young adults, in particular, would be motivated to get vaccinated if it was required in certain instances, The Hill reported. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said he expects more employers will mandate vaccinations once the vaccines are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Both Moderna and Pfizer have applied for full approval, and a decision is expected later this summer. Meanwhile, several Republican governors have banned mandates and passports in any form, including from private employers, emphasising that vaccination is a personal choice.

In addition, well-funded anti-vaccination groups are eager to challenge any kind of vaccine requirement, according to The Hill.

In April, the World Health Organisation (WHO) cautioned that the use of vaccine passports may not be an effective way to reopen global travel, citing the lack of vaccinations in certain pockets of the world. 

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