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Texas Governor issued a ban on “Passport of vaccine COVID-19”

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott. (Photo: Carrington Tatum / Shutterstock)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order that forbids state agencies or accreditation organizations from asking citizens to present so-called vaccine passports to receive goods, services or enter a building.

“Texans will return to normal as more people get COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, this week, Texas will surpass the 13 million doses used, ”Abbott said on April 6. “Those injections help slow the spread of COVID-19, reducing hospitalizations and deaths.”

Before that, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed a similar executive order stemming from privacy concerns.

“But, as I said, this vaccination is completely voluntary and never compulsory. The Government should not require any Texans to present proof of vaccination and the release of personal medical information for the daily routine of their lives, ”Abbott, also Republican, said.

“That’s why I issued an executive order banning vaccine passports in Texas. We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health, and we will do so without compromising the individual freedoms of Texans. ”

Abbott says the order waives nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

The “vaccine passport” system has been proposed in a number of countries, and some airlines have also come up with the idea. The state of New York has begun implementing an “Excelsior” system that requires residents living there to present proof of vaccinations at major events. This rule is said to be a nuisance.

Privacy and civil liberties groups say such systems would not be likely to violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), but there are 2 groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated people could be created.

At the same time, such passport systems may be dependent on whether a person has a smartphone with the relevant application to confirm that they have been immunized. The American Civil Liberties Federation (ACLU) last week said low-income people would be adversely affected if the vaccine passport system required the use of smartphones.

“A dedicated digital system, whether by design or as a matter of fact, has no prospect of success because it will increase inequality. Many people do not have smartphones, including disproportionate numbers from some of our most vulnerable communities, such as low-income, disabled or homeless, ”according to ACLU.

The vaccine passport system would also have to be decentralized and not allow for tracking – or creating a new database, the ACLU said.

“We are not against the idea of ​​requiring proof of immunization in certain contexts. But given the enormous difficulties in creating a digital passport system, possible compromises and failures in the process, we are wary of side effects and long-term consequences. length that it can take. We will closely monitor developments in this event, ”said the ACLU.

Other organizations argue that the mandatory adoption of the vaccine passport system will lead to an increasing number of citizens distrust of government and health officials.

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