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Alabama governor signs bill to prohibit vaccine passports

Alabama Gov. Kay IveyKay IveyAlabama's GOP Gov. Kay Ivey to seek reelection Vaccination tracking apps ineffective, amplify inequalities, pose privacy issues: report Overnight Health Care: WHO renaming COVID-19 variants | Moderna applies for full vaccine approval | 1.1M NY vaccine passports downloaded since launch MORE (R) on Monday signed a bill banning private businesses and public institutions from requiring COVID-19 “vaccine passports.”

As the Montgomery Advertiser reports, the bill passed the Alabama state House 76 to 16 a week ago.

The legislation states that public entities such as schools "may not issue vaccine or immunization passports, vaccine or immunization passes, or any other standardized documentation for the purpose of certifying the immunization status of an individual, or otherwise require the publication or sharing of immunization records or similar health information for an individual.”

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It does not, however, affect vaccine requirements already in place in schools, the newspaper notes.

The bill only applies to vaccines that were approved as of Jan. 1 and may have to be revisited in future legislative sessions.

In a press release obtained by AL.com, Ivey said, “Since the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, both [State Health Officer Scott Harris] and I have said that we would not mandate vaccines in the state of Alabama.”

“I am supportive of a voluntary vaccine and by signing this bill into law, I am only further solidifying that conviction. I made the choice to get the COVID-19 vaccine and glad for the peace of mind it brings,” she added. “I encourage any Alabamian who has not gotten their shot to roll up their sleeves, and if you have questions, consult with your health care provider.”

Other GOP-led states such as Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Wyoming have passed similar bills restricting or prohibiting the use of vaccine passports.

Alabama, like much of the Southeastern U.S., is lagging behind in terms of vaccination rates. Nearly 3 million vaccine doses have been administered in Alabama, according to the state's department of health.

According to the Mayo Clinic's COVID-19 vaccine tracker, around 29 percent of Alabama's population is fully vaccinated and roughly 36 percent have received at least one dose.

Nationally, nearly 40 percent of the U.S. is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and almost 50 percent have at least one dose.