By James Murphy
Two more states are bucking the anti-freedom idea of citizens having to prove they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine in order to participate in society. Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama both signed laws that will ban or severely restrict the use of so-called “vaccine passports” in their states.
Last Thursday, Iowa’s Reynolds, a Republican, signed House File 889 into law. The new law prohibits state and local governments in Iowa from listing an individual’s COVID-19 status on any identification card in the state. Additionally, while the new law doesn’t explicitly ban a private business or government entity from implementing their own COVID-19 protocol, those businesses or government entities (such as public schools) that do insist on proof of a COVID-19 vaccine to participate would forfeit any state revenue or government contracts.
In early April, Reynolds first signaled that opposed the idea of vaccine passports, saying that their use would create a “two-tiered system” and have privacy implications.
“I strongly oppose vaccine passports, and I believe that we must take a stand as a state against them,” Reynolds said in April.
Then, just yesterday, Alabama joined Iowa in taking a stand against vaccine passports when Governor Kay Ivey signed SB267 into law. The new law prohibits the use of vaccine passports and stops schools from adding the COVID-19 vaccine to it’s list of specific vaccines already required as of January 1, 2021.
“Since the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, both Dr. Harris (the state health officer) and I have said that we would not mandate vaccines in the state of Alabama. I am supportive of a voluntary vaccine and by signing this bill into law, I am only further solidifying that conviction,” Ivey said in a statement.
Both Reynolds and Ivey are pro-vaccine and have reportedly been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. They also encourage constituents to get vaccinated.
The Alabama Republican Party claimed that the new law was “protecting the privacy rights of Alabamians from the federal overreach of the Biden Administration.”
Thus far, the Biden Administration has abstained from the notion of federal vaccine passports, with Press Secretary Jen Psaki telling reporters in April, “There will be no vaccination database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”
Even so, the federal government is assisting the private sector by setting standards for those same passports that they say they will never mandate.
“We’re leading an interagency process right now to go through these details and that some important criteria be met with these credentials,” Andy Slavitt of the White House COVID-19 Response Team told reporters.
Iowa and Alabama join several states, notably Florida, Texas, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Utah, which have already banned or greatly curtailed the use of vaccine passports. Reportedly, up to 40 states are in the process of drafting legislation that would limit the use of vaccine passports.
On the other hand, New York State has already rolled out its Excelsior Pass which allows users to prove to venues that they have either been fully vaccinated or have recently tested negative for COVID-19. The Excelsior Pass is already at use in Major League Baseball with separate sections for vaccinated vs. unvaccinated fans at Yankees and Mets games. Vaccinated sections can seat up to 100 percent capacity while the lowly unvaccinated sections can only seat up to 33 percent of capacity.
What’s next? Separate bathrooms for the un-vaccinated? Separate drinking fountains?
The State of Hawaii recently instituted its Safe Travels Hawaii program which requires residents to show proof of vaccination while hopping from one island to the next to avoid quarantine. To travel island to island in the Aloha State, citizens must fill out the Mandatory State of Hawaii Travel and Health Form.
The New York and Hawaii vaccine passport systems prove one of Governor Reynolds’ points. They create a two-tiered system where only those brave enough to take the experimental vaccines for COVID-19 can fully participate in society.
If the vaccines work, why would such documentation be needed? Aren’t those who are vaccinated safe from the un-vaccinated? Aren’t the un-vaccinated only risking the health of others who are un-vaccinated, and if so, isn’t that their own fault/responsibility?