Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hands down order prohibiting 'vaccine passports'

click to enlarge Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a video announcing his executive order. - YOUTUBE SCREEN CAPTURE / GOV GREG ABBOTT
YouTube Screen Capture / Gov Greg Abbott
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a video announcing his executive order.
Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an order barring state agencies and groups that access state funds from setting up "vaccine passports" that require someone to obtain a COVID-19 inoculation before receiving services.

The action by Texas' Republican governor is yet another sign how partisan divisions are playing out during pandemic. As private companies and other entities look to check people's vaccination status as a safety assurance, GOP politicians have argued that such efforts undermine privacy and personal liberties.

"Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal health information just to go about their daily lives," Abbott said in a video announcing his order.

His mandate follows a similar one issued last week by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican. In addition to stopping state agencies from using vaccine passports, DeSantis' order goes further by including an outright ban on private businesses requiring them.

The European Union recently unveiled plans for a “Digital Green Certificate” that would enable citizens to show their vaccination status as they cross borders. Israel has already created a similar passport for domestic use.

New York became the first U.S. state to unveil a pass that residents can use to indicate they've been vaccinated. However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House's top medical advisor, said the federal government won't mandate a vaccine passport system.

Abbott's order comes as he looks to hold off a potential 2022 primary challenge from the right. That appears likely to come from Texas GOP Chairman Allen West, a firebrand who's repeatedly downplayed the pandemic and accused Abbott of abusing Texans' personal liberties during the crisis.

To date, 16.1% of Texans are fully vaccinated and 28.5% have received at least one shot. However, white Republicans are the most skeptical group of Texans when it comes to getting inoculated, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. According to that February survey, 61% of white Republicans said they're either reluctant to get vaccinated or won't receive the shot at all.

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