Pennsylvania Senate advances bill banning COVID-19 vaccine passports

Pennsylvania’s state Senate advanced legislation that would ban state and local governments from requiring vaccine passports.

“We want those who want to receive the vaccine to have every opportunity to do so,… However, those who cannot get the vaccine due to medical reasons, arbitrary vaccine deployment phases created by the governor, or personal choice should not be discriminated against by their own government.” Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill of York County, who co-sponsored the bill, said.

“We have seen shifting guidance from day one, and while the administration shares our sentiment in not requiring vaccine passports, this legislation will give every Pennsylvanian the reassurance that their state government will not overstep its bounds.”

S.B. 618 heads to the full Senate for consideration after being approved by the Health and Human Services Committee Monday.

“Things that are implemented in New York have a way of trickling down here to Pennsylvania. We thought it was really important to get out ahead of this because we truly believe citizens should not have to show a passport to engage in their daily lives,” said Phillips-Hill added.

New York paid IBM $2.5 million to create their state-issued vaccine passports known as the Excelsior Pass. Other states are requiring proof of vaccination to attend gatherings.

“There are many reasons why someone may choose not to get vaccinated,” Republican State Senator Michele Brooks, who also co-sponsored the bill, said. “For the government to use vaccination status as a method of denying access to people, places and opportunities infringe upon the rights and freedoms we are blessed to have as Americans.”

In March, Governor Tom Wolf announced his support for a vaccine passport but has since made no plans to introduce one state-wide.

“You used to have to have one when you traveled overseas,… I would think that’s a fairly easy thing to do,” Wolf said.

“If that were something that came from the General Assembly, yeah, I’d support that,” he added.