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Governor Abbott speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Council conference. Wikipedia

Texas and Florida prohibit federal vaccination certificates

The US state of Texas has banned state-mandated vaccination certificates. On Tuesday, Republican Governor Greg Abott introduced an executive order to prohibit any regulation requiring Texans to show proof of vaccination before receiving a product or service.

Published: April 9, 2021, 9:43 am

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    The order states: “State agencies and political subdivisions shall not adopt or enforce any order, ordinance, policy, regulation, rule or similar measure that requires an individual to provide, as a condition or receiving any service or entering any place, documentation requiring the individual’s vaccination status for any Covid-19 vaccine administered under an emergency authorization.”

    According to the state’s website, a “political subdivision” can include a county, municipality, special district, school district, junior college district, housing authority or other political subdivision of this state or any other state.

    “Everyday, 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 on Tuesday. Texas will pass the 13 million dose mark this week. The government should not require Texans to have proof of their vaccination and thus reveal private health information.

    “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,” said the 63-year-old.

    Texas is the second US state to issue such an executive order. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Republican Party) also signed a similar order last week, pointing out freedom and privacy. “It is totally unacceptable that either the government or the private sector should dictate that you show proof of vaccination just to be able to participate in normal society,” said DeSantis.

    Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (Republican Party) is also considering a ban on vaccination records. “I don’t support vaccination records. I don’t think it’s necessary, and I don’t think it’s a good thing to do in America,” he told CNN over the weekend. The World Health Organization (WHO) also announced on Tuesday, citing justice concerns, that it does not currently support compulsory proof of vaccination, for example for international travel.

    The White House reacted with irritation to the initiatives of several Republican governors. “Let me be very clear. The government does not support any system now or in the future that requires Americans to wear ID,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki. The White House is reportedly working on a vaccine passport programme. The Washington Post reported that the Biden administration was working on an effort with federal agencies and private companies to develop a tracking system.

    The US state of New York introduced the “Excelsior Pass” in February, which politicians are promoting as a “free, fast and secure way to present digital evidence of the Covid-19 vaccination” in the event that reopening sports and entertainment facilities require proof of the vaccination status of visitors.

    Retail company Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, offers customers who get vaccinated in its stores an electronic verification app so that they can easily access their vaccination status when needed, the company said. According to New York Times, universities like Rutgers, Brown and Cornell are planning to require proof of vaccination for students starting this fall. The Miami Heat basketball team was the first team in the NBA this week to open special “Vaccinated Only” sections.

    As the Washington Post reported, at least 17 private companies or non-profit organizations are currently working on digital vaccination passports that could be used by sports venues, restaurants, and other businesses. United Airlines, for example, is currently testing the CommonPass mobile app, which was developed by the Commons Project Foundation and the World Economic Forum. With the app, travellers can show their Covid-19 vaccination status to officials when checking in and out of the flight.

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