In Boston, Acting Mayor Kim Janey has said she will not be pursuing vaccine requirements similar to New York City. For those who are unvaccinated, Janey told WBUR, “We don’t want to ban them from public spaces or restaurants.”
And countries like France and Italy have seen massive protests in response to their plans to require vaccination cards for everyday activities.
Though some civil liberties groups are raising privacy concerns against digital COVID-19 vaccine passports, requiring proof of vaccinations in and of itself has not been seen as an undue invasion of privacy in many routine scenarios.
While they aren’t required for dining out and other social activities, here are seven instances when people have already had to show they had received a host of vaccines, even before COVID-19 upended norms.
Kids in school
If you or your kids have gone through the public school system in the United States, you’re probably familiar with showing proof of vaccination. In Massachusetts, students in kindergarten through 12th grade are required to show records of being immunized with DTaP/Tdap (targeting three serious diseases diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough), polio, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), hepatitis B, and varicella (chicken pox) vaccines. Starting in the 2021-22 school year, all students entering grades 7, 8, 11, and 12 will need a meningococcal conjugate vaccine as well. Preschoolers are also required to be vaccinated in accordance with the state’s schedule for young children.
Proof of vaccination can be a form or letter signed and dated by a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. that should specify the month and year a student received each vaccine. Alternatively, parents can provide a dated report from the Massachusetts Immunization Information System, which lists the dates of the students’ vaccines.
Some students can get exemptions to this rule based on medical or religious reasons, and documentation is required in those cases too. For medical exemptions, a doctor must provide a document explaining why a student cannot receive a particular vaccine, while religious exemptions can come from parents or guardians stating in writing that a vaccine conflicts with their religious beliefs.
Kids and adult staff in camps
Massachusetts camps require the same vaccinations as schools, and children must meet the requirements of the grade they’re about to enter. Adult camp staff must also be vaccinated in accordance with Department of Public Health requirements.
In 2017, according to the state, a single case of mumps at a summer camp in Massachusetts meant everyone who got sick had to isolate, those who couldn’t show they had received two doses of the MMR vaccine had to get vaccinated, and those who couldn’t get vaccinated but didn’t have immunity to mumps had to quarantine.
And the presence of staff and campers from outside the country introduced an added complication. “International staff and campers with missing or incomplete vaccination records made rapid implementation of disease control measures very challenging,” a state document outlining camp vaccination requirements states.
Students in colleges
All postsecondary students in Massachusetts under the age of 30 have to show proof they’ve received Tdap, MMR, and hepatitis B vaccines, plus varicella if they can’t show “a reliable history of chicken pox” or lab evidence of immunity. All full- and part-time health sciences students, regardless of age, must also meet these requirements.
For those 21 and under, meningococcal vaccinations are also required, though students may decline after signing a waiver form.
Many colleges are also now requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
Health care workers
Health care workers in Massachusetts who are assigned to maternal-newborn units are required to show at least one dose of vaccine or lab evidence of immunity to rubella and measles. The state’s licensed health care facilities are required to offer free flu shots to all employees, but those who decline must sign a statement affirming that they know the risks and benefits of vaccination.
Several other states , such as Maine, do mandate certain vaccinations for health care workers, requiring all employees in designated health care facilities, including nursing homes and hospitals, to show a certificate of immunization or lab evidence of immunity against measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, hepatitis B, and influenza.
Day care staff
Those who work for licensed group and family day-care facilities in Massachusetts are required to show proof of vaccination or lab evidence of immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella.
Immigrants to the United States are required to jump through a series of hurdles, including undergoing a medical exam involving blood tests and X-rays, as well as providing proof they’ve received a list of vaccines based on their age group. These include the seasonal flu shot and vaccines for Tdap, MMR, hepatitis B, and varicella or lab evidence of immunity to chicken pox, among others for children and seniors.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, some countries already required visitors to show proof of vaccination against specific diseases. Saudi Arabia requires all religious pilgrims to show proof they have received a meningococcal meningitis vaccine. Some countries in South America, Africa, and Asia require yellow fever vaccines, particularly if a traveler is coming from a country with a risk of transmission (the United States is not one of them).
The United States does not currently require vaccinations for visitors but the Biden administration reportedly is developing a plan to require all foreign travelers entering the country to show proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.
For Americans who want to cross the border up north, Canada is waiving its quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated US travelers who provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination and a negative test through its ArriveCAN app starting Aug. 9.