The government “absolutely” has the right to know citizens’ vaccination status, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
“The federal government has spent trillions of dollars to try and keep Americans alive during this pandemic," Becerra said Thursday on CNN, according to The Hill.
"So it is absolutely the government's business, it is taxpayers' business, if we have to continue to spend money to try and keep people from contracting COVID."
When pressed whether the Biden administration would push to require proof for vaccinations, Becerra said states and local governments should decide that.
"We want to give people the sense that they have the freedom to choose, but we hope that they choose to live," Becerra said.
Vaccine “passports,” proof of immunization against coronavirus, has been controversial topic. Republicans and civil rights advocates have pushed back against them, and the White House ruled out playing any role in such a system. Biden administration officials have indicated a willingness to defer to private companies to decide if proof of vaccination is required.
Becerra said the administration has a duty to make sure all Americans can "prosper and freely associate" following the pandemic, and that vaccinations are key to that objective.
"Knocking on a door has never been against the law, you don't have to answer," Becerra said. "But we hope you do, because if you do we can hopefully help dispel some of those rumors that you've heard and hopefully get you vaccinated."
Becerra's comments came after the Biden administration fell short of its goal to have 70 percent of all adult Americans receive at least one COVID-19 vaccination by July 4.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced an administrative plan at included ““targeted community-to-community, door-to-door outreach.”
President Joe Biden suggested the door-to-door outreach could help promote COVID-19 vaccines.
“Please get vaccinated now. It works. It’s free,” Biden said.
Health experts say vaccines appear to be effective against the highly transmissible delta variant, which presently ranks as the dominant strain in the country.
“It’s never been easier, and it’s never been more important," Biden said of vaccinations. "Do it now for yourself and the people you care about, for your neighborhood, for your country. It sounds corny, but it’s a patriotic thing to do.”
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich was among Republicans who criticized Biden’s comments.
“Americans trust medical researchers and their family doctors to provide information and recommendations to make personal decisions but they do not trust government intrusion or the politicization of the health care process,” Brnovich wrote in a letter to the White House this week.
"I, along with many Arizonans, was greatly alarmed by your White House indicating that it might be in possession of medical records revealing the contact information for Americans who have not been vaccinated ... If this is the case, this is a severe breach of privacy, and I will not tolerate such intrusions within Arizona."
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