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Baker talks about proof of vaccination, welcoming Afghan refugees, in radio appearance

Governor Charlie Baker at the Massachusetts State House.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/file

Massachusetts officials are talking to their counterparts in other states to figure out how to devise a universal system for residents of the Commonwealth to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, Governor Charlie Baker said Thursday.

“We’ve been talking to the states that have developed this,” Baker said. “And it’s certainly something that, I mean, I just happen to think that getting to the point where there’s a relatively simple process for people to credential the fact that they’ve been vaccinated will be important for a whole bunch of reasons.”

Baker made the comments during his regular appearance on Boston Public Radio on GBH 89.7.


He noted that it’s already possible to verify someone’s vaccination status, but the goal is to make that process simpler.

“You can look it up right now,” Baker said. “You can, for the most part, you can access through the provider [with whom] you got vaccinated, a validation, verification credential that you’re vaccinated currently. But obviously there are states and municipalities that have done something more universal than that. And we’ve been talking to those folks and working through how that would work here in the Commonwealth.”

That prompted host Jim Braude to remark, “So, it’s likely we’re going to have such a thing at some point.”

The Republican governor, a data-conscious former health care executive known for choosing his words carefully, remained true to form in his response.

“I certainly think it’s going to be an important thing for people to have,” Baker said. “But again, you can validate and verify that you’ve been vaccinated right now.”

Vaccine verification has taken on added urgency in the wake of President Biden’s recent mandate that all private-sector employers in the United States with more than 100 workers require vaccination for staffers or weekly testing.


Asked about that sweeping mandate Thursday, Baker, who last month required tens of thousands of state employees to get vaccinated by mid-October or risk getting fired, demurred.

“I’m obviously a big fan of people getting vaccinated and I’m obviously comfortable with employers creating programming for their own people to get vaccinated,” Baker said. “But we have not seen yet any details on what [the Biden mandate] looks like. And I hesitate to comment on it until we actually see something” about the implementation.

Separately, Baker reiterated the state’s commitment to welcoming Afghan refugees seeking safe haven after the Taliban retook that country last month amid the US troop withdrawal.

“There will be people who resettle in Massachusetts,” Baker said. “And that’s something that, as I said before, we support and want to participate in. … But it’s going to happen over time” in collaboration with the federal government and nonprofits that assist refugees.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat, also signaled a willingness Thursday to welcome refugees from Afghanistan to his state. Lamont said in a statement posted to Twitter that the White House has indicated Connecticut may be asked to take in up to 310 Afghan refugees.

“I welcome these individuals with open arms into our wonderful state,” Lamont said.

Material from the New York Times was used in this report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.