MEMPHIS, Tenn — You’ve probably heard of the term by now, vaccine passports, but a bill against them in Tennessee is making its way through the General Assembly. Mid-South governors are taking a stand against it as well.
The bill that would prevent any government in Tennessee from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine passport is being supported by Gov. Bill Lee. In a tweet Tuesday Lee said, “I oppose vaccine passports” going on to say, "I am supporting legislation to prohibit any government-mandated vaccine passports.”
“We have at least one county in our state that is requiring this or something very similar to,” said Rep. John Ragan, who is sponsoring the bill.
But what exactly is a vaccine passport? It’s typically an app with a code that verifies whether someone has been vaccinated or has recently tested negative for COVID-19. Supporters have said the passport is to allow the inoculated to more freely travel, dine and shop but Republicans see them as a violation of personal freedom and private health choices.
“This bill says that no state entity, and by the way counties and cities are subunits of state government, can mandate a vaccine passport,” said Rep. Ragan.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said he’s opposed to vaccine passports and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said he didn’t think vaccine passports were a good thing to do in America. This week the White House said the U.S. government won’t be issuing vaccine passports.
“There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
The White House also said private businesses can make their own decisions regarding requirements for proof of vaccination. The Tennessee bill would not stop a business from requiring a vaccine passport.