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Texas bans COVID-19 'vaccine passports'

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned the use of vaccine passports through executive order on Tuesday. Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned the use of vaccine passports through executive order on Tuesday. Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo

April 7 (UPI) -- Amid speculation over so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott prohibited state agencies and certain private businesses from requiring patrons to show such a document to receive services.

The Republican governor issued the ban Tuesday through an executive order.

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In an accompanying video published to Twitter, Abbott argued no Texans should be forced to show private health information to conduct daily activities.

"These vaccines are always voluntary and never forced," he said. "We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health, and we will do so without treading on Texans' personal freedoms."

The executive order states that no governmental entity can force someone to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and that state agencies and private entities that receive public funds are prohibited from requiring members of the public to show documentation confirming whether they have been inoculated against the virus as a condition of receiving services or to enter an establishment.

The Texas executive order was issued days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a similar ban through an executive order on Friday.

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The states issued their bans amid concerns that companies and governmental agencies may require vaccine credentials before servicing customers.

The United States as of Tuesday morning has administered more than 168.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, fully vaccinating more than 63 million people as the country seeks to inoculate all Americans eligible for the shot.

The effort has ramped up as President Joe Biden said he would administer 100 million shots within his first 100 days in office, a goal he doubled after exceeding the initial target in shy of 60 days.

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Amid worries such a passport may become required, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday the administration is not now nor will every support such a system.

"There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential," she said.

The private sector is examining ways for large groups of people to safely congregate together, which is where the idea of vaccine passports came from, she said, stating they don't expect the notion to travel further than that.

She said the administration will provide guidance soon to answer questions "around concerns about privacy, security or discrimination" linked to the COVID-19 vaccine.

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas has administered more than 13 million shots and Florida has administered more than 10 million.

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