As the country hits record-setting levels of vaccinations, the latest issue taken under the wing of the GOP culture wars appears to be so-called “vaccine passports.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday issued an executive order banning “vaccine passports,” which he gripes would supposedly tread on Texans’ “personal freedoms.”
“Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives,” Abbott said in a statement Tuesday announcing the order. “That is why I have issued an executive order that prohibits government-mandated ‘vaccine passports’ in Texas. We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health — and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”
Republicans are becoming increasingly up in arms over vaccine passports despite the White House repeatedly stating that it won’t federally mandate the practice, but will leave it up to local entities to make the call.
The announcement by Abbott, who lifted mask mandates and declared last month that “it’s time to open Texas 100%,” comes on the heels of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issuing a similar executive order last week.
In the Florida governor’s executive order, DeSantis argues that vaccine passports would “create two classes of citizens based on vaccinations” and therefore infringe on Floridians’ freedom and privacy.
“Individual Covid-19 vaccination records are private health information and should not be shared by a mandate,” DeSantis’ executive order reads.
After issuing the executive order, DeSantis tweeted that he will sign the ban on vaccine passports into law.
Today I issued an executive order prohibiting the use of so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports. The Legislature is working on making permanent these protections for Floridians and I look forward to signing them into law soon. Read my EO here – https://t.co/6QwLsLWEWm
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 2, 2021
Days before signing the executive order last week, DeSantis had vowed to take executive action against vaccine passports, which he decried as “completely unacceptable” for the federal government or the private sector to impose upon the public.
On Monday, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told the “Politico Dispatch” podcast that the federal government will not mandate documentation showing proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.
“I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept,” Fauci said. “They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is gonna be the leading element of that.”
Fauci added that he could foresee “individual entities” like theaters and schools implement their own policies regarding proof of vaccination status.
“I’m not saying that they should or that they would, but I’m saying you could foresee how an independent entity might say, ‘Well, we can’t be dealing with you unless we know you’re vaccinated,’” Fauci said. “But it’s not going to be mandated from the federal government.”