Proposals supporting the creation of a so-called vaccine passport system have been floated at various levels of the government and in the private sector in an effort to verify the vaccination status of American citizens.
Critics, on the other hand, have raised red flags regarding perceived privacy violations and discrimination — and Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has addressed the matter with a bombshell executive order this week.
“Without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms”
His action effectively prohibits vaccine passports, databases, or similar systems in the state based on the belief that such measures constitute violations of personal liberty.
Abbott did not mince his words in denouncing the idea of a vaccination credential program, arguing that while he encourages people to get their shots, he would not allow companies or agencies to require it.
“Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives,” the governor declared on Monday.
For that reason, he said his executive order “prohibits government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas” even as the state ramps up its effort to inoculate citizens “without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”
Abbott went on to praise state health officials for their progress throughout the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, adding that he is encouraged by the impending return to normal life.
“Lots of questions”
Nevertheless, he said that “vaccines are always voluntary and never forced.”
The governor’s latest action came in the wake of his declaration last month by which he lifted statewide mask mandates and returned the state’s businesses and events to 100% capacity. His move was heralded by many in his own party but received immediate criticism by many progressive lawmakers and members of the mainstream media.
Although talk of vaccine passports has sparked speculation that such a mandate be implemented on the federal level, the Biden administration put such concerns to rest with a statement this week. White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the topic during a press briefing on Tuesday in response to questions from the media.
“Let me be very clear on this,” she said. “I know there’s been lots of questions. The government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.”
She suggested that any such requirements would emanate from “private and non-private sectors” outside of the federal government. Time will tell what steps those entities might take — as well as how Abbott and other GOP officials will respond.