Iowa, Alabama Governors Sign Laws Banning Vaccine Passports

May 24, 2021 Updated: May 25, 2021

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey have signed bills into law, joining other states that prohibit COVID-19 vaccine passports at the state level.

Ivey signed Senate Bill 267 (pdf) into law on May 24, while Reynolds signed House File 889 into law on May 20.

“Since the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, both Dr. Harris [the state health officer] 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,” Ivey said in a statement.

Reynolds said she “strongly oppose[s] vaccine passports” last month and that she would like to take legislative or executive action.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Nov. 16, 2020. (Kelsey Kremer/Des Moines Register/Pool)

The two laws are similar. Both prohibit state agencies from issuing identifications that show personal vaccine records, and further state that no business or government entities should require proof of vaccination to provide admission or service.

The Iowa version specifically targets COVID-19 related vaccine passports while the Alabama version seems to be not limited to COVID-19, only stating “immunizations” and “vaccines.”

Iowa further requires that “grants or contracts funded by state revenue shall not be awarded to or renewed with respect to a business or governmental entity” that violates the law. The Alabama version doesn’t provide any punishment mechanism.

States have taken two paths to counter vaccine passports, either through executive orders or legislation.

Governors from Texas, Idaho, Arizona, South Dakota, Montana, South Carolina, and Wyoming have issued executive orders to ban COVID-19 vaccine passports, while Utah, Arkansas, and North Dakota have passed bills into law to deal with the issue.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis first issued an executive order in early April and then signed a bill into law in May to ban vaccine passports.

Vaccine Passport Technology Demonstrated In Las Vegas
REVIV USA West Coast Operations Manager Kari Armamento uses a cell phone and an iPad to demonstrate the HELIIX Health Passport at REVIV at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, on April 7, 2021. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Vaccine passport systems have come under fire recently for concerns over data security, individual freedoms, health care privacy, and dividing society into classes.

Meanwhile, Hawaii, New York, and some parts of California have rolled out programs for digital passports that track testing and vaccination status for the CCP virus.

Last week, the Biden administration reiterated that the federal government won’t implement or support a vaccine passport system, suggesting that the matter will be left to private businesses and local authorities.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.