Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order Tuesday to ban government-required “vaccine passports” in Texas, following a similar decision from Florida last week.
In a video announcement, Abbott said that Texans are returning to “normalcy” as vaccination efforts increase and hailed the state for administering more than 13 million doses to residents so far. The Republican governor then said that vaccination efforts should be done “without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”
“But, as I have said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said. “Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives.”
The order states that no government agency can mandate an individual receive a Covid-19 vaccination or enforce any policy that requires a person to provide proof of vaccination in order to receive services. It also states that any institution, public or private, that receives government funds cannot deny someone for failing to provide proof of vaccination.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a similar order on Friday, prohibiting government agencies from issuing “vaccine passports … or other standardized documentation for the purpose of certifying an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status to a third party.”
DeSantis argued that vaccination records are private information that individuals should not be forced into sharing, which would reduce their personal freedoms.
The decisions by leaders in Texas and Florida follow speculation that vaccine cards, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, may become required for individuals to travel without quarantine, enter private businesses, or attend large-scale events.
Experts told NBC News that politicization of vaccine passports could aggravate vaccine hesitancy, even as politicians from both parties encourage people to go get the inoculations.
Immunization cards, such as those for yellow fever, are already required for some international travel and visa requirements. Immigrants seeking permanent residency in the U.S. are also required to offer proof of vaccination for certain diseases, such as measles, mumps and rubella, according to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.