Gov. Brad Little signed an executive order Wednesday banning any state governmental entity from requiring so-called “vaccine passports”—or proof of COVID-19 vaccination—for citizens to receive public services or access facilities.
Little announced the action in a brief public address Wednesday afternoon.
“Idahoans should be given the choice to receive the vaccine. We should not violate Idahoans’ personal freedoms by requiring them to receive it,” Little said. “Vaccine passports create different classes of citizens. Vaccine passports restrict the free flow of commerce during a time when life and the economy are returning to normal. Vaccine passports threaten individual freedom and patient privacy.”
Vaccine passports are official proof—rendered through a written certificate or a smartphone app—that someone has been vaccinated against COVID-19. They are considered a possible means to allowing people to once again gather in crowds and attend large events. New York state tested a vaccine passport app last month at an NBA basketball game and an NHL hockey game.
However, some politicians have argued that requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination violates people’s personal privacy and freedoms. The governors of Florida and Texas recently signed executive orders similar to Little’s.
In the order, Little said “it is contrary to my core values as an Idahoan and conservative” to mandate vaccination or mandate proof of vaccination.
“I have serious concerns that implementing COVID-19 vaccine passports will violate Idahoans’ medical privacy rights, prejudice those unable to receive the vaccine, slow our economic recovery, cause division among our populace and, ultimately, be counterproductive to the widespread administration of the COVID-19 vaccines among Idahoans,” Little states in the order.
In announcing the order, Little said that while he is opposed to vaccine mandates, he supports eligible Idahoans getting vaccinated. He noted that nearly 500,000 Idahoans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. He said the vaccines have been a “game changer,” are “proven safe and effective” and are providing a path for the state to return to “normal” life.