Kansas, Missouri Governors Vow to Not Implement Vaccine Passports in States

April 6, 2021 Updated: April 6, 2021

The governors of Kansas and Missouri on Monday said they will not require residents of their states to show so-called “vaccine passports” in order to enter businesses or events, or to travel.

In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly told reporters that instead of implementing vaccine passports, she will be focusing on more important aspects of the pandemic response.

“I have no interest in vaccine passports,” the Democratic governor said, reported Associated Press. “We will not be issuing those under my authority, for sure, and we have a lot of other things to deal with—things that will make a difference in people’s safety and health.”

While there is currently no legislative effort to ban vaccine passports in Kansas, members of the state legislature have proposed a resolution (pdf) urging the state to adopt a “COVID-19 Vaccine Bill of Rights,” which would strip a state license from interstate transportation companies, such as airlines, if they require travelers to be vaccinated.

In the neighboring state of Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson has said that while he doesn’t support state-mandated vaccine passports, he’s fine with private companies adopting them.

“If the private sector wants to do that, I’m fine with that,” Parson said at a press conference last week. “As far as the state goes, we won’t mandate vaccine passports.”

The Republican governor reiterated his position on Monday, writing on Twitter, “I do NOT support a vaccine passport and have no intention of implementing one in the State of Missouri.”

A vaccine passport is typically in the form of a smartphone app that records and displays the user’s health information, including his or her COVID-19 vaccination status. In New York state, the government has worked with IBM to launch the Excelsior app, which allows people to connect to a public health database and save their information onto their smartphones.

According to a statement by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, this “proven, secure technology” is expected to be a boost to the reopening for theaters, stadiums, wedding receptions, and other catered events. Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden and Albany’s Times-Union Center have announced they will implement the use of Excelsior pass.

A number of states have explicitly banned the government from implementing a vaccine passports system, citing concerns of individual freedom and privacy.

Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered that no government agencies or entities should issue any vaccine passport, and that businesses will not be allowed to require proof of vaccination from customers to enter the building or get served.

“Requiring so-called covid-19 vaccine passports for taking part in everyday life—such as attending a sports event, patronizing a restaurant, or going to a movie theater—would create two classes of citizens based on vaccination,” the governor’s order reads.