Virus Outbreak New Jersey

Nurse Maritza Beniquez (right) receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 15, 2020, at University Hospital, in Newark, New Jersey. Beniquez was the first person in New Jersey to receive the vaccination.

(The Center Square) – A leading Senate Republican blasted New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday, saying a new app that allows residents to access their COVID-19 immunization data is a backdoor vaccine passport.

“Governor Murphy hasn’t been transparent with New Jerseyans during the pandemic and he’s refused to rule out the use of vaccine passports,” state Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic, said in a news release. “We need to be vigilant to ensure this app doesn’t suddenly morph into a vaccine passport that people are forced to display everywhere they go.”

On Monday, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) said anyone with a phone number or email address on file with the New Jersey Immunization Information System (NJIIS) can access their COVID-19 vaccination record with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-approved Docket app.

Currently, the app will only include information about COVID-19 vaccinations, but state officials are looking to expand it to include other immunization histories.

“While Governor Murphy insists the app is not a vaccine passport, it could likely be used for that purpose should he change his mind,” Testa said. “New Jersey is doing just fine without it.”

Testa sponsored S-3674 to bar the state from mandating businesses verify a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status as a condition of entry.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services paid for the app through the end of the year, Donna Leusner, director of communications for the NJDOH, said in an email.

“If the NJ Department of Health continues use of the app beginning in January, 2022, the Department would enter into a contract with [Docket],” Leusner said. “The estimated cost would be between $8,000-$10,000 a month.”