TEXAS — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, citing a need to protect “personal freedoms,” on Monday issued an executive order prohibiting government-mandated vaccine passports in the state.
Specifically, the order prevents state agencies from creating vaccine passport requirements or making vaccination a requirement in order to receive services.
The order additionally prohibits organizations from receiving public funds from requiring people to provide documentation of vaccination status in order to receive services or enter any location.
"Every day, Texans are returning to normal life as more people get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. But, as I've said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced," Abbott said. "Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives. 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."
Proponents have repeatedly pointed out that proof of vaccination is required for school attendance in many instances as well as overseas travel.
Vaccine passports currently only exist in one state — a limited government partnership in New York with a private company — but that hasn’t stopped GOP lawmakers in a handful of states from rushing out legislative proposals to ban their use.
For instance, GOP senators in Pennsylvania are drawing up legislation that would prohibit vaccine passports, also known as health certificates or travel passes, from being used to bar people from routine activities.
“We have constitutional rights and health privacy laws for a reason,” said Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, a Republican. “They should not cease to exist in a time of crisis. These passports may start with COVID-19, but where will they end?”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.