Arizona governor is latest to ban vaccine passports

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey at a Honeywell International plant that manufactures personal protective equipment in Phoenix on May 5, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images)

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday issued an executive order banning all state agencies and local governments throughout the state from requiring people to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to receive service.

The order, effectively outlawing so-called vaccine passports, made Ducey at least the sixth governor to issue such a directive, though Arizona’s new ban does not go as far as other states’. Like the other governors who’ve blocked vaccine passports, Ducey couched it as a decision based on individual choice.

“The residents of our state should not be required by the government to share their private medical information,” Ducey said in a press release. “While we strongly recommend all Arizonans get the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not mandated in our state — and it never will be. Vaccination is up to each individual, not the government.”

So far, about 2.75 million Arizonans — or 38.3% of the state’s population — have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the state Department of Health Services, with nearly 2 million of them now fully vaccinated.

Other states to block vaccine passports include Florida, Idaho, Montana, Texas and Utah, all of which, like Arizona, have Republican governors, though their orders differ in scope and severity. Ducey’s order prevents schools, universities, child care centers, health facilities and private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, similar to an order signed this month by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

Other orders have gone further, none more than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ April 2 edict, which applied to all government entities and businesses in the state, potentially including schools. The Florida House of Representatives is also considering legislation that would codify the ban and give DeSantis the power to fine entities that attempt to require proof of vaccination.

Despite the flurry of vaccine passport bans from some states, there are few active efforts around the country to require people to present such a credential before entering a government office or business. New York State was the first to test a vaccine card in the form of a mobile app, hiring IBM to design an app state officials call “Excelsior Pass.”

That app, which was first tested at a Feb. 27 NBA game in Brooklyn, has been made available to all New Yorkers on a voluntary basis, though few organizations have said they’ll require its use. Officials in Erie County, however, did say this month that people attending Buffalo Sabres hockey games will need to show proof of vaccination as the team’s arena reopens to fans.

But few vaccine passport programs are in development elsewhere, as the Biden administration has backed away from any federal passport, though it is attempting to develop standards. Hawaii, which has had restrictions on entry since the start of the pandemic, expects to offer a vaccine passport app later this year that could be required for arriving tourists.

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Arizona, COVID-19, Doug Ducey, Privacy, Vaccine passport
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