Governor Hochul Announces Excelsior Pass Now Available to Military Veterans Who Received COVID-19 Vaccines in a Veterans Affairs Facility
New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the Excelsior Pass and Excelsior Pass Plus are now available to all military veterans who received their shots at a U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs hospital or health care facility in New York. The state Office of Information Technology Services, the Division of Veterans’ Services, the Department of Health, the Executive Chamber and representatives of the federal government worked together to ensure that now, nearly 117,000 currently eligible military veterans can retrieve their secure proof of vaccination from the State’s Excelsior Pass platform and fully participate in the State’s reopening.
“As we fight the winter surge, it’s more important than ever that New Yorkers get vaccinated and have access to the Excelsior Pass,” Governor Hochul said. “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 was executed, the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs shared COVID-19 vaccination data received by U.S. Military veterans living, working and getting vaccinated in New York directly with the federal government. This inoculation data therefore remained outside of the State’s jurisdiction, and could not be included in the State’s immunization databases.
This fall, Governor Hochul issued an executive order that began the process to allow the federal Department of Veterans Affairs to transmit immunization records related to COVID-19. Through this coordination, it gave VA the authority to provide this data to allow its veterans to participate in the Excelsior Pass programs. There are now more than 700,000 veterans living in New York.
New York State Chief Information Officer Angelo ‘Tony’ Riddick said, “Thanks to the leadership of Governor Hochul and our partners at all levels of government, Excelsior Pass and Excelsior Pass Plus are now available to all veterans. As a 30-year active duty Army Veteran who was vaccinated at the VA, I can report I have joined the ranks and secured my Excelsior Pass. We must all work together and take proactive steps to continue to keep New York safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Excelsior Pass platform does just that.”
Acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, “Today’s news deepens the State’s commitment to empowering all individuals with access to a privacy-preserving vaccination Pass, including for veterans and their families. Thanks to Governor Hochul’s leadership, we continue to do everything possible to ensure that all New Yorkers—as well as New York businesses—have the tools they need through the pandemic and this winter surge. Ensuring these datasets 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.”
New York State was the first in the nation to launch a proof of COVID-19 vaccination and negative test results pass system, with more than 8.4 million Excelsior Passes, including over 2 million Excelsior Passes Plus, issued since March 2021. The toolset continues to be critically important in supporting the state’s reopening efforts, public health and economic development simultaneously.
Earlier this month, Governor Hochul announced that masks must be worn in all indoor public places unless businesses or venues implement a vaccine requirement. Businesses and venues that implement a proof of vaccination requirement must ensure that anyone 12 years of age or older is fully vaccinated before entering indoors.
New York State has been a national leader in the early development of digital proof of vaccination and negative test results, accompanied by a free, verifiable app for businesses. The app—available in more than ten languages—is the first tool built to validate vaccination Passes issued from other U.S. States as well as seven provinces and territories in Canada based on federal and state COVID-19 guidance. Following the State’s new indoor masking and proof of vaccination requirements, the Excelsior Pass platform continues to be critical tool for New Yorkers and businesses alike.