Kentucky lawmaker takes steps to ban vaccine passports

A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card at...
A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card at Operation Warp Speed headquarters in Washington, D.C., Nov. 13, 2020. The cards will be sent out as part of vaccination kits from Operation Warp Speed.(U.S. Department of Defense)
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 9:44 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Despite the Biden Administration announcing it would not require vaccine passports, a document showing an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status, Kentucky State Representative Brandon Reed is drafting a bill that would ban the government from enforcing such a measure, calling it government overreach and a violation of people’s rights.

However, UofL Law professor Timothy Hall, who specializes in health law, told WAVE 3 News the government does have the authority to require the public get vaccinated, according to a Supreme Court ruling that upheld the state of Massachusetts’ authority to mandate vaccinations in 1905.

“The idea of vaccine passports is a good one in the sense that it tries to get us back to normal, and it tries to establish a level of trust,” Hall said. “If you’re going to go into a sporting arena or a concert, you might be more willing to do that if you believed the other people were vaccinated.”

However, Hall said some argue mandatory vaccine passports may cause security concerns and create issues with proving identity.

“I do think even some who have advocated for these passports have articulated some potential issues, issues of equity; what technologies you’d be required to have to get this passport,” he said. “There are people thinking about these things trying to get it right, balancing the public health benefits and the potential inequities and potential burdens of requiring this.”

Hall asserts that if vaccination passports were enforced, some people would likely be exempt.

There is a concern that “blanket bans,” such as banning the government from mandating vaccine passports, could be detrimental toward ending the pandemic.

“We’re reaching the point in vaccine distribution where the issue is no longer supply of the vaccine, it’s the willingness of people to take the vaccine, and frankly the willingness of people to trust that the vaccine is in fact safe,” Hall said. “My fear is that if we say you’re not allowed to require vaccines just based on someone’s preference to not get vaccinated, that we may be giving too much weight to people who unfortunately have been fed disinformation about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, and that’s only going to prolong the pandemic.”

The state of Indiana has already passed a law banning the government from mandating vaccine passports.

Reed plans to file his bill in June.

WAVE 3 News reached out to Reed for an interview about the topic but didn’t hear back at the time this article was published.

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