The White House asserted Thursday that there will be no federal database for COVID-19 vaccinations — despite the rise of counterfeit vaccine cards as more businesses and educational institutions require proof of the shots.
“There will be no federal vaccination database. As with all other vaccines, the information gets held at the state and local level,” Jeff Zients, President Biden’s COVID-19 response coordinator, said at a press briefing.
Zients said the federal government, however, is working with the private sector on developing their own systems for verifying vaccinations.
“Any system that is developed in the private sector or elsewhere must meet key standards — including affordability, being available both digitally and on paper, and importantly protecting people’s privacy and security,” Zients said.
But the decision not to implement a federal database comes amid concerns about ensuring the veracity of vaccine cards as more businesses, schools and workplaces are requiring proof.
Without a single federal digital card, the easy-to-forge paper card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has become the standard.
Zients said federal officials are aware of incidents involving fraudulent vaccine certificates.
“We are aware of some cases of fraud or counterfeit COVID-19 cards being advertised on social media sites, and e-commerce platforms. While the practice is not widespread, I will remind everyone that it’s a crime,” he told the Thursday press briefing.
Currently, about 50 percent of the US population is fully vaccinated against the virus, according to the CDC.
Still, while working on increasing this number, the US is also preparing the rollout of booster shots if they become necessary.
The highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus now accounts for almost 95 percent of new infections in the US, CDC figures show — and it is being blamed for a surge in cases and hospitalizations across the country.
“It’s a true statement that we believe sooner or later you will need a booster for the durability of protection,” White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the briefing.
Vaccination offers strong protection against the mutation, with CDC data showing there’s only a minuscule risk of vaccinated Americans becoming seriously sick with breakthrough infections.
Fauci said that while they believe immunocompromised people should be the most important candidates for a booster shot, they’re still working to determine when other people may need them.
“This is a dynamic process and the data will be evaluated,” he said.
“The one thing we are doing is we are preparing for the eventuality of doing that. So if the data shows us that in fact, we do need to do that, we’ll be very ready to do it and do it expeditiously.”
The CDC on Thursday recorded that the seven-day average for daily COVID-19 cases was 113,000, up nearly 24 percent from the previous week.
COVID-19 hospitalizations also increased to a seven-day average of 9,700 per day, representing a jump of about 31 percent compared to the previous week.
The seven-day average for deaths rose about 22 percent from the previous week — to 452 per day, the data shows.
Meanwhile, the White House warned that Florida continues to be the epicenter of the nation’s latest case surge — accounting for more infections than the 30 states with the lowest case rates combined, Zients said.
“We are doing everything we can to get people vaccinated and support state and local leaders on the ground,” Zients said.
“But as we’ve said from the start, ending this pandemic requires every American doing their part. So please, if you’re unvaccinated, get your shot.”