Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz recently introduced H.R. 3660, or the Digital Health Pass Prevention Act (DHPPA) of 2021, that would ban all federal support for vaccine passports.

If passed, the bill would prevent the federal government from funding and enforcing any program that uses digital health passes, which are used to verify an individual’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination status unrelated to official health care records.

The bill is co-sponsored by Texas Reps. Louie Gohmert and Lance Gooden – both Republicans like Gaetz.

“We will not allow the public health bureaucracy to be a new entity to drain our liberty away in the United States of America. The federal government has no business asking Americans for their vaccination status, and they should not have the ability to use taxpayer funds to support third parties who do,” Gaetz said.

“Americans will not trade mask mandates for vaccine mandates. I urge every freedom fighter in Congress to join my efforts to ban federal support for vaccine passports.”

Florida in frontline of battle against vaccine passports

Gaetz’s home state is known for vigorously opposing vaccine passports. 

Last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill (SB) 2006. The bill takes aim at vaccine passports and arbitrary lockdowns while enhancing emergency preparedness for future emergencies.

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,” said DeSantis.

“Over the last year we’ve avoided protracted lockdowns and school closures in Florida because I have refused to take the same approach as other lockdown governors. This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses.”

SB 2006 will ensure that neither the state nor local governments can close businesses or keep students out of in-person classes at Florida schools, except during hurricane emergencies.

The legislation codifies the prohibition of COVID-19 vaccine passports. DeSantis enacted this prohibition through an executive order in April, blocking any business or government entity from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Republican governors oppose vaccine passports

Other Republican governors have also issued orders or signed laws prohibiting vaccine passports, some of which only pertain to government agencies while others cover private businesses.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order barring government agencies from requiring people to be vaccinated or show proof of vaccination. “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.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order banning vaccine passports and preventing state and local governments from asking people to provide their vaccination statuses to receive services or access to facilities. “The residents of our state should not be required by the government to share their private medical information,” Ducey said. “While we strongly recommend all Arizonans get the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not mandated in our state – and it never will be.”

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte issued an executive order prohibiting the development and use of vaccine passports. Under the order, the state and businesses are barred from requiring people to share whether they have been vaccinated. The ban protects “individual liberty and personal privacy,” said Gianforte.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued an executive order prohibiting government entities from mandating such documents or verification of vaccination to receive public services or access to facilities. “Vaccine passports create different classes of citizens,” Little said in a statement. “Vaccine passports threaten individual freedom and patient privacy.”

Democrats join Republicans to pass bill banning vaccine passports

Votes for or against vaccine passports normally fall along party lines. But on Wednesday, June 2, Republicans and a handful of Democrats in the Michigan House passed a bill that would ban government-required COVID-19 vaccine passports.

The bill, if approved by the Senate and signed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, would ban vaccine passports or any other system where individuals’ civil rights are diminished by their COVID-19 vaccination status.

The bill would prevent any governmental body from tracking vaccination statuses and requiring proof of vaccination, including public schools and colleges, government buildings and meetings and any other governmental entity.

Bill sponsor Rep. Sue Allor expressed concerns with discussions about requiring students to be vaccinated to live on campus and requiring people to be vaccinated to go grocery shopping or see public performances. 

“We need to make our stance known. The control of one’s life based on his or her vaccination status is frightening,” Allor said. “It is not something that we as United States citizens should ever consider as acceptable.”

Meanwhile, the Michigan Senate cleared another vaccine bill that would ban state and local health officials from mandating minors be vaccinated for COVID-19. That bill would ban vaccine requirements in public schools, buildings and spaces.

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