MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a bill sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) to protect Alabamians from a mandate that would require individuals to present a COVID-19 vaccine passport to receive services and goods from a governmental or private entity.
The bill would prohibit the issuance of vaccine passports by state and local governmental entities; prohibit governmental entities from requiring an individual to receive an immunization as a condition for government benefits or services; and prohibit businesses from refusing service to an individual based on that individual’s immunization status.
The original version of the bill would have prevented local governments from compelling vaccinations, and the legislation would also have allowed religious and other exemptions to any state laws mandating vaccinations. However, those aspects were replaced in the substitute version, which only deals with vaccine passports and not vaccines themselves.
“Any demand by the government to require individuals to carry proof of COVID-19 vaccination strips them of the right to make basic choices for themselves and their families,” stated Orr. “The implementation of a mandatory vaccine passport is a direct infringement upon the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
“A vaccine passport system would give the government access to our private health information and would enable them to restrict our personal liberty and our ability to move around freely,” he added. “Say you decide not to take the COVID-19 vaccine and you want to go to the Iron Bowl this fall. With a vaccine passport system in place, you would be required to present your government-issued passport on your mobile device in order to enter the stadium. Without that passport, you would be denied entry to the game.”
The bill now heads to the House for consideration.
“I applaud all who are involved in the creation and distribution of the various vaccines we now have to protect against COVID-19, and I am certainly glad that they are so readily available to Alabamians who may choose to receive one,” concluded Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Sheffield), a medical doctor. “However, individuals and families should be able to use their own discretion and make their own choices when it comes to being vaccinated; we cannot make those choices for anyone but ourselves.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn