Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Wednesday voiced opposition to issuing a state-mandated vaccine passport as proof individuals have received a coronavirus vaccine.
Boston Herald reports:
“I think having a conversation about creating a barrier before people have even had an opportunity to be eligible to be vaccinated — let’s focus on getting people vaccinated,” Baker said Wednesday, replying only “no” to reporters’ questions about a state vaccine passport system.
The Republican governor’s stance came the day after two lawmakers sent a letter urging Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito [R-MA] to develop a “robust framework” for vaccine verification as other states move forward with plans.
Baker’s remarks follow Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issuing executive orders prohibiting state-directed vaccine passports over growing concerns about the curbing of civil liberties.
Abbott issued an executive order Tuesday which not only bars vaccine passports but also blocks state agencies from receiving public funds for creating such documentation.
“Texans are returning to normal life as more people get the safe and effective COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] vaccine. But as I’ve said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced,” the Texas Republican said in a statement. “Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal 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.”
On Friday, DeSantis issued an executive order effectively banning the use of vaccine passports in Florida. The directive also prevents businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination.
“There was never under discussion any mandates to take vaccines. We will not have COVID vaccines mandated in Florida,” DeSantis stated last week. “The flip side of that though with these vaccine passports is it’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society.”
Other Republican governors such as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) have also voiced opposition to vaccine passports, though Kemp did not say whether he will take executive action against the creation of one.
“I do not and will not support any kind of state-mandated vaccine passport. While the development of multiple safe, highly effective COVID-19 vaccines has been a scientific miracle, the decision to receive the vaccine should be left up to each individual,” Kemp tweeted Tuesday.
Later Tuesday, the Biden White House ruled out imposing a federal vaccine passport but said businesses were free to consider the move.
“The government is not now, nor will be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential. There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.