Vaccine passports: 23 states with bans, limitations & green lights

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As the nation's COVID-19 vaccination rollout picks up steam, the use of vaccine passports, or proof of coronavirus vaccination, has left many concerned about health privacy protections.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said April 6 that the federal government is "not now nor will be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential," and that "there will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential," according to The New York Times.

Here are 23 states that have pledged support for vaccine passports or opposition to the tech, listed in alphabetical order.

Editor's note: This article was updated May 26.

1. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill May 24 that prevents state government entities from issuing vaccine passports and blocks businesses from requiring such documentation in exchange for services, CNN reported.

2. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order April 19 to prohibit all state and local governments from requiring people to prove their COVID-19 vaccination status to receive services or enter an area. The ban however does not apply to private businesses and healthcare institutions.

3. California is not pursuing a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passport requirement but will work with the private sector to monitor the development of any passports mandated for businesses such as sports teams or event venues, Los Angeles Magazine reported April 26. 

4. Connecticut is still up in the air regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passports, despite Gov. Ned Lamont's claims that the state would begin conversations on the topic once vaccinations open to everyone. Vaccination eligibility opened to all residents 16 and older April 1. In March, Mr. Lamont said he does expect "some type of passport or validation … probably led by the private sector, according to a May 5 Yale Daily News report.

5. On April 2, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order prohibiting the use of COVID-19 vaccine passports in the state, citing privacy concerns and freedom as the main reasons for the ban.

6. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted his opposition April 6 to "any kind of state-mandated" vaccine passport, writing that "While the development of multiple safe, highly effective COVID-19 vaccines has been a scientific miracle, the decision to receive the vaccine should be left up to each individual."

7. Hawaii Gov. David Ige said April 5 that the state is testing the tech needed to support a vaccine passport, but that it won't be ready for another four weeks or so, according to the Honolulu Star-AdvertiserOn April 20, Mr. Ige tweeted that the state will launch a vaccination verification program May 11 to support inter-county travel.

8. Idaho banned any state and government entities from requiring vaccine passports for residents to receive public services or access facilities, Gov. Brad Little said in an April 7 statement. 

9. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he thinks a vaccination app would be useful but should not be mandatory to enter any event or facilities, stressing that the tech would be offered as a personal choice, according to a March 24 Center Square report.

10. Indiana enacted a law that prevents state and local government units from creating or mandating a vaccination card or passport, according to a May 24 Fox 59 report.

11. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds pledged on April 7 that the state will oppose vaccine passports legislatively or on an executive level as she believes the tech violates personal choice, privacy and HIPAA, according to local CBS affiliate KMTV.

12. Louisiana has not yet decided on any vaccine passport programs in the state, with Gov. John Bel Edwards referring to it being "a little early in the process to know how these kinds of vaccine verifications would actually work," according to an April 7 local NBC affiliate WDSU report. 

13. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte issued an executive order April 13 prohibiting the use of vaccine passports, he announced on Twitter.

14. Nebraska will not participate in any vaccine passport initiatives, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced March 31, claiming the tech is a violation of "two central tenets of the American system: freedom of movement and healthcare privacy."

15. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper at the end of March said his administration is exploring the development of a vaccine passport for residents, according to an April 21 North State Journal report.

16. In March, New York became the first state to launch a COVID-19 vaccine passport, dubbed Excelsior Pass. The digital platform is free and voluntary for New Yorkers to confirm recent negative PCR or antigen test results as well as proof of vaccination.

17. Ohio Health Director Stephanie McCloud on May 17 told Spectrum News that the state will not implement digital vaccine passports. She said Ohio is not working with any private individuals on any type of passport whatsoever, including digital.

18. Pennsylvania senators on May 6 introduced legislation that would ban the state from requiring COVID-19 vaccine passports, Fox 43 reports. Gov. Tom Wolf's administration has previously said it would not require vaccine passports.

19. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a COVID-19 mandate May 11 that bans the use of vaccine passports across the state and prevents schools and governments from creating mask mandates, according to NPR.

20. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee also took to Twitter April 6 to vocalize his opposition of the tech, writing that he believes the "COVID-19 vaccine should be a personal health choice, not a government requirement."

21. Texas also instituted a ban on COVID-19 passports April 5, which prevents the state and some businesses from requiring passports of customers to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

22. Utah passed a law in April that blocks the state government from requiring people to get the COVID-19 vaccine and use vaccine passports, according to an April 6 Salt Lake Tribune report.

23. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon barred state officials from requiring residents to have COVID-19 vaccine passports, according to a May 9 Buckrail report.

 

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