Abbott: "Don't tread on our personal freedoms", bans use of vaccine passports in Texas

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning all government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas. Abbott stated that it is an infringement on citizens’ rights to track those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Every day, 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 in announcing the executive order.

“Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives,” he added. “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 β€” and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”

Abbott isn’t an anti-vaxxer. We know he has been vaccinated because he did so in front of cameras, like many public officials, to encourage everyone to be vaccinated when they are able to do so. The point he is making is that vaccinations are a personal decision, not a decision being forced upon Texans by a government entity. This is consistent with how Abbott has approached the subject of vaccinations from the beginning when they became available in Texas. He frequently tweets out statistics on how the state’s coronavirus numbers are looking and vaccination updates. He ends those tweets by reminding readers that vaccinations are voluntary.

This is a good example of such tweets from the governor. It is from five days ago. You can see he encourages vaccinations.

The executive order bans state agencies from requiring either digital or printed vaccine passports to enter public spaces or receive public services. These passports only exist in New York so far, in limited capacity. Other states are considering them and the possibility of a federally-issued vaccine passport is under discussion. Dr. Fauci said on Monday that it is unlikely that the federal government will mandate documentation of COVID-19 vaccinations. This is where I note that Fauci has been wrong before so who knows where the Biden administration is with this topic.

“I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept,” Fauci said. “They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is gonna be the leading element of that.”

Abbott’s executive order applies to all public agencies, and any public or private organization that receives state funds. There are some exemptions – nursing homes and long-term care facilities are exempt. They can still require visitors to show proof of vaccination.

Florida Governor DeSantis was the first to issue such a ban via executive order last week. He said that vaccine passports would β€œreduce individual freedom and … harm patient privacy.” Lawmakers in Pennsylvania and Arkansas, among other states, are drafting legislation to address the documentation.