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COVID-19: NY Will Have Nation's First 'Vaccine Passport'

The New York State Excelsior Pass will allow residents to enter certain venues and businesses
The New York State Excelsior Pass will allow residents to enter certain venues and businesses Photo Credit: ny.gov

New York has become the first state to introduce a “vaccine passport,” which will permit residents to prove that they’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19 or recently tested negative for the virus.

Over the weekend, the Empire State introduced the “Excelsior Pass,” an app that will enable New Yorkers to prove that they have completed the COVID-19 vaccination process to gain entry to certain events and businesses. 

The app will allow New Yorkers to prove that they are vaccinated or have a recent history of a negative COVID-19 test.

“Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app,” officials said in announcing the new program.


“Each pass will have a secure QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination. An individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.” 

Officials said that the app won’t show any health information when scanned — it’ll only show a green checkmark if the person has been vaccinated or tested negatively or a red “x” if they haven’t.

Prominent venues including Madison Square Garden will begin utilizing the app this week, beginning on Friday, April 2 before it is expanded to smaller arts, entertainment, and event venues,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said. 

“New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back COVID,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure.

To sign up, New Yorkers can register by downloading the app and inputting personal information to verify their identity. The app will then pull data from the state’s vaccine registry and a number of pre-approved COVID-19 testing companies.

“The question of public health or the economy has always been a false choice — the answer must be both,” Cuomo added. “As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening.”

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