House Lawmakers Call on South Carolina Governor to Ban ‘Vaccine Passports’

House Lawmakers Call on South Carolina Governor to Ban ‘Vaccine Passports’
A handout image shows the Excelsior Pass, a platform that lets New Yorkers present proof of COVID-19 vaccination at events. (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)
Jack Phillips

Lawmakers in South Carolina called on Gov. Henry McMaster to ban so-called COVID-19 “vaccine passports,” coming after Florida’s governor signed an executive order barring them.

“The use of ‘vaccine passports’ to restrict commerce is a threat to both personal liberty and medical privacy,” the Republican lawmakers wrote in a letter. “We are committed to fighting this violation at the federal level, and we urge you to do the same by working with Attorney General [Alan] Wilson at the state level.”

The group, led by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), said McMaster, a Republican, should “do everything” within his power to “prohibit ‘vaccine passports’ from being required to enter, enjoy and move about our beautiful state.”

They noted that such a system would potentially violate the privacy and certain civil liberties of residents in South Carolina, including a possible “violation of the federal HIPAA law,” referring to the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Meanwhile, such a system will create political “polarization around the COVID-19 vaccine” instead of convincing more people to get it.

“As we see it, ‘vaccine passports’ are a terrible approach to managing this pandemic or the economy, and instead will violate the rights of our citizens,” they wrote. “We urge you to fight against this with every tool of state government, including preventing state agencies from cooperating or coordinating with the federal government on the use of potential ‘vaccine passports.’”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks to a crowd in Columbia, S.C., on Nov. 3, 2020. (Sam Wolfe/Reuters)
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks to a crowd in Columbia, S.C., on Nov. 3, 2020. (Sam Wolfe/Reuters)

South Carolina Republican Reps. Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman, Joe Wilson, and William Timmons signed Mace’s letter. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the No. 3 Democrat in the House, and Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) did not sign it.

McMaster, on Twitter, strongly criticized such a system: “Vaccine passports will have no place in South Carolina. The very idea is un-American to its core.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed an executive order last week that bars companies and government institutions from using a vaccine passport system, while calling on Florida lawmakers to pass a similar measure.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil liberties groups have said such a mandate would possibly imperil citizens’ right to privacy and create unequal classes of people.

“Today I issued an executive order prohibiting the use of so-called COVID-19 vaccine passports,” DeSantis wrote in a tweet on April 2. “The Legislature is working on making permanent these protections for Floridians and I look forward to signing them into law soon.”

New York state, meanwhile, has proposed its own “Excelsior Pass” that would be used in large-scale events such as Madison Square Garden or sporting events. Hawaii state officials are also considering requiring proof-of-vaccination for inter-island travel. Israel set up a vaccine passport system in February to grant people access to gyms and hotels, while Iceland now uses a vaccine passport to allow foreign travel, and Saudi Arabia has an app-based passport for people who got vaccinated.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
Related Topics