Military veterans who received their COVID-19 shots at a U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs hospital or health care facility in New York can now utilize the Excelsior Pass to provide proof of negative tests or vaccination, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday.
Earlier this year, Hochul issued an executive order allowing the VA to transmit immunization records related to COVID-19.
That, she said, gives the VA authority to provide the state with COVID-19 vaccination data for nearly 117,000 eligible military veterans, allowing them to participate in the state-run Excelsior Pass program to access businesses and venues statewide.
"As we fight the winter surge, it's more important than ever that New Yorkers get vaccinated and have access to the Excelsior Pass," Hochul said in a statement. "From health care to housing, New Yorkers who served our country deserve care and respect when they return home. That's why I'm proud to announce hundreds of thousands of New York veterans will now be able to utilize the Excelsior Pass, so they can share proof of vaccination and be easily welcomed into businesses and venues across the state."
Before this change, the VA shared COVID-19 vaccination data on military members living in the state directly with the federal government, preventing them from being included in the state's immunization databases.
"Ensuring these data sets are now sent to the state not only provides more New York veterans with safe access to their proof of vaccination results, but it also provides the state with more data that helps us continue to best promote and protect the health of all New Yorkers," Acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement.
New York was the first state in the nation to launch a proof of COVID-19 vaccination and negative test results pass system.
More than 8.4 million Excelsior Passes, including more than two million Excelsior Passes Plus — a more detailed platform that includes the same information found on an individual‘s vaccination card or paper laboratory test results — have been issued since March.
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