Lesson Plan: What are vaccine passports and how might they work?

What are "Vaccine Passports?"

University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine Director Howard Markel explained the idea of vaccine passport, talked about their history and the current debate surrounding "vaccine passports." He responded to statements from Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.


This lesson has students explore the recent discussion surrounding vaccine passports and what policies regarding vaccine verification should be in place. Students will hear the perspectives of historians, medical professionals, lawyers, and public officials on policies relating to vaccine passports. Students will use this information to discuss how, if at all, these vaccine passports should be implemented.


  • SET-UP:

    This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or independently by students.

    Each activity, video and handout included in the lesson can be linked to an online discussion board or learning management system. You can also save and share the following Google handout for students to use with this lesson.

    HANDOUT: Vaccine Passports (Google Doc)

    By making a copy of this Google Doc, you can adjust the instructions to meet the needs of your class and provide that copy to your students. Your students can also make a copy and complete the assignments digitally in the space provided.

  • WARM-UP:

    Before beginning class, have students brainstorm answers to the following question. After providing ample time for the students to answer the question, address any questions or misconceptions that students have.

    • What is the purpose of vaccines?

    Ensure that students have a working definition of the following vocabulary terms. These terms will be referenced throughout the lesson. Students should research and record working definitions of each word using the handout linked below:

    HANDOUT: Vaccine Passports (Google Doc)

    • Credential

    • Immunity

    • Mandate

    • Passport

    • Private Entity

    • Public Sector

    • Vaccination

    • Verification

    Students will explore the debates surrounding private and public entities requiring proof of vaccines by viewing each of the following video clips. For each video clip, have the students answer the associated questions. They can access these video clips using the handout linked below.

    HANDOUT: Vaccine Passports (Google Doc)

  • Video Clip 1: What are "Vaccine Passports?" (6:06)

    • What is meant by vaccine passports?

    • How are current efforts to verify vaccinations like what has been done previously?

    • What are some of the criticisms of vaccine passports?

    • What is the White House’s position on vaccine passports?

    • What was the precedent set in Jacobson v. Massachusetts? How does that relate to the discussion over vaccine passports?

    • How might private businesses use vaccine passports?
  • Video Clip 2: The Private Sector and Vaccine Passports (7:02)

    • What is the purpose of a vaccine passport?

    • What is herd immunity?

    • According to Dr. Zinberg when might vaccine passports be needed?

    • Why might vaccine passports be needed for foreign travelers to the United States?

    • According to Dr. Zinberg, why should private entities have the power to require vaccine verifications for their customers and employees? What are examples of this?

    • What role can customers play in businesses’ decisions to require vaccines? How do federal laws protect the privacy of people’s health information?
  • Video Clip 3: Vaccine Verification and the Public and Private Sectors (3:11)

    • What does White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki say the role of the federal government is in providing vaccine passports?

    • What is Governor DeSantis’s view on vaccine verifications by private businesses and the government?

    • What are Governor DeSantis’s concerns about private businesses requiring vaccine verifications?
  • Video Clip 4: Dr. Georges Benjamin on Vaccine Passports (1:33)

    • How does the idea of vaccine verifications relate to students going to schools?

    • How have vaccine verifications previously been used for international travel?

    • Why does Dr. Benjamin oppose requiring vaccine verifications within the United States?

    Using the students’ answers from the video clip questions, have them compile notes relating to the following issues/questions on the handout.

    • What is the purpose of a vaccine passport?

    • Benefits of vaccine passports

    • Concerns over vaccine passports

    • Ways of implementing vaccine passports

    Review the students' responses and notes as a class. To demonstrate understanding, students will address the prompt below. Teachers can choose to have a structured class discussion or have students submit a written response.

    Prompt: How, if at all, should vaccine passports be implemented? Use your notes to provide examples supporting your position. Your responses can address issues like the circumstances that vaccine passports should be used, who should have the power to require vaccine passports, or the role of the government in this process.


    • How is the discussion over vaccine passports an example of society balancing individual rights with public safety?

    • If approved for children, should students be required to provide proof of vaccination to attend school?

    • Who should have the power to require vaccine passports?

    • What role should the government play in vaccine verification?

    • When, if at all, should vaccine passports be used?

    • How is this discussion over vaccine passports an example of the principle of limited government?

Additional Resources


  • Covid-19
  • Credential
  • Database
  • Epidemic
  • Government Mandate
  • Herd Immunity
  • Immunization
  • Infectious Disease
  • Jacobson V. Massachusetts
  • Limited Government
  • Mandate
  • Mitigation
  • Natural Immunity
  • Privacy
  • Private Businesses
  • Private Entity
  • Private Sector
  • Statute
  • Vaccine Hesitancy
  • Vaccine Passport
  • Vaccine Passports
  • Verification


Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesHealth


High SchoolUniversity