Various private- and public-sector entities have advocated for requiring “vaccine passports,” or proof of COVID-19 inoculation, in order to obtain goods and services.
Such proposals have received widespread opposition on the right, however, most recently in the form of an Alabama bill signed into law this week by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey.
“I am supportive of a voluntary vaccine”
According to the newly enacted legislation, businesses and organizations in the state will be prohibited from imposing vaccine passport requirements.
The law appears to apply only to COVID-19 and thus would not impact existing vaccine requirements by public schools.
In a statement touting the state’s move, Ivey said: “Since the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, both [State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris] 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.”
As for herself, the governor said she “made the choice to get the COVID-19 vaccine” and has enjoyed “peace of mind” as a result.
“I encourage any Alabamian who has not gotten their shot to roll up their sleeves, and if you have questions, consult with your health care provider,” she added.
“Certifying the immunization status of an individual”
The new law was set to take effect immediately and prohibit government entities or private businesses from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.
Local reports show that the bill passed in the state Senate with a unanimous 30-0 vote last month and subsequently passed in the state House by a lopsided 76-16 margin.
Specifically, the law forbids public entities from issuing any type of vaccine documentation “for the purpose of certifying the immunization status of an individual” or requiring “the publication or sharing of immunization records or similar health information for an individual.”
The move comes after several other GOP-led states took similar steps through executive action or legislation. Alabama now joins Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming in explicitly prohibiting vaccine passports. A number of other states are said to be considering similar actions.
Roughly 3 million vaccine doses have been administered in Alabama thus far, according to state health records, accounting for about 36% of adult citizens — and 76% of those over 65 — who have received at least one shot.