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COVID Vaccine Passport Program Could Be Coming To Massachusetts Soon, Baker Says

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A COVID-19 vaccination passport program that would allow residents to quickly demonstrate their vaccine status could be up and running in Massachusetts and several other states soon, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday.

Proof of vaccination would be available on a QR code on an individual's cellphone. The code could be quickly scanned to show the person's vaccination status.

"What we've been talking about is putting together the ability for somebody to download their information which is available on our website so they can put it on their phone and make it available whenever they need it," said Baker.

The Republican said he already has a QR code on his phone with his vaccination status.

Asked when it will be up and running Baker said, "I hate to say this because you hear me say this word a lot but it's going to be soon."

The governor's office said in a statement that the vaccine passport would be voluntary and not part of a statewide mandate.

Sarah Finlaw, communications director for Baker's office, issued a statement and said the governor does not support a vaccine passport mandate.

Governor Baker is not and has never been in favor of a statewide so-called vaccine passport mandate and does not support requiring that businesses or other organizations restrict access based on vaccination status. Right now, MA residents can voluntarily obtain proof of their vaccination either in paper form, or electronic form from most but not all vaccine providers such as CVS or Walgreens. The Administration is developing a system for residents, if they choose to, to obtain their digital proof of vaccination if they are unable to obtain it through their vaccine provider. Currently, some businesses are choosing to screen customers for vaccination status. There is no Massachusetts requirement that these businesses do so. The Administration is working to make it easier for those residents who wish to download this proof of vaccination record if they want to.

Baker also said that booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine are available across the state, although it may take from 10 days to two weeks to schedule an appointment to receive one.

The state is seeing increased demand for the vaccines, he added. Baker said Massachusetts is administering about 55,000 shots per day, including boosters.

The governor said he has his own booster shot scheduled for this week.

Baker said in the interview that he has been pushing the federal government to make at-home COVID testing more affordable and easily accessible. New Hampshire recently announced that residents can now request to have free, at-home COVID tests shipped directly to their house by Amazon.

Close to 19,000 Massachusetts residents have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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