The 54th Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, on Monday (May 25) signed a bill into law banning public entities and businesses from requiring COVID-19 vaccine passports to access services.
The bill passed the Senate 30 to 0 on April 8 and the House 76 to 16 on May 17.
“I’ve signed SB 267! Since the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, both Dr. Scott Harris (state health officer) and I have said that we would not mandate vaccines in the state of Alabama”, Ivey, a Republican, said in a statement on Monday.
“I am supportive of a voluntary vaccine, and by signing this bill into law, I am only further solidifying that conviction” the governor added.
Ivey’s statement added that the Alabamian governor has been vaccinated and would “encourage any Alabamian who has not gotten their shot to roll up their sleeves”.
The Alabama Republican party said the law was “protecting the privacy rights of Alabamians from the federal overreach of the Biden Administration”.
The law, which went into effect immediately, says state and local governments “may not issue vaccine or immunization passports, vaccine or immunization passes, or any other standardized documentation for the purpose of certifying the immunization status of an individual, or otherwise require the publication or sharing of immunization records or similar health information for an individual” outside of already-required school vaccinations.
It also bans public entities and private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination to provide goods or services to individuals, outside of existing school vaccinations.
Educational institutions “may continue to require a student to prove vaccination status as a condition of attendance only for the specific vaccines that were already required by the institution as of January 1, 2021, provided that the institutions give an exemption for students with a medical condition or religious belief that is contrary to vaccination,” according to the text of the law.
Alabama is the latest state to outlaw proof of a coronavirus vaccination in the name of personal freedom and privacy protection.
Earlier this month, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis cited freedom of choice as a reason for signing legislation banning vaccine passports.” In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision” he said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott who issued an executive order prohibiting government-mandated proof of inoculation in his state last month, argued that “government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives.”
Federal officials say there are no plans to make so-called vaccine passports broadly mandatory.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, CNN