Senator warns that new immunization app functions as a vaccine passport

Benson also criticized the MDH for approving and rolling out the Docket app without "full vetting" in the Legislature and public feedback.

Sen. Michelle Benson/Facebook

State Sen. Michelle Benson is speaking out against the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) approval of a new smartphone app, warning that it basically acts as a de facto vaccine passport.

In a Thursday press release, Benson criticized the release of an “intrusive” vaccination record app called Docket, which “enables residents with a Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC) record to securely view and share their immunization records,” per the MDH.

Benson, chairwoman of the Minnesota Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, called Docket a “significant overreach of government” because it allows “third-party access” to private health data.

She also said Minnesotans can already digitally access their vaccination records. The MDH claims, however, that it has been receiving a deluge of vaccination record requests and people are waiting “weeks, not days” to get them. The intent behind Docket, the department says, is to enable people to access their records much quicker.

But Benson’s statement evinces a belief that there’s more intent behind this app than mere ease of access.

“The Docket app essentially serves as a government-approved vaccine passport, despite [Gov. Tim] Walz’s declaration [that] he had ‘no intention’ of implementing one,” she said.

Benson is referring to the Minnesota governor’s remarks back in April, when he said at a news conference that getting people vaccinated against COVID is the only way out of the pandemic.

“I have no intention of doing vaccine passports,” Walz stated, according to KSTP. “Our vaccine passport is get the shot. Get the shot and we get beyond this. So we have no intention of doing it.”

Benson also criticized the MDH for approving and rolling out the Docket app without “full vetting” in the Legislature and public feedback.

Back in May Minnesota state senators voted on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill prohibiting vaccine passports.

“In order to protect the fundamental rights and privacy of Minnesotans and because vaccination status is protected health data, no place of public accommodation shall require the disclosure of a person’s immunization status for the infectious disease known as COVID-19 prior to entry on the premises,” the bill reads.