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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly.

Missouri and Kansas will not require vaccine passports

The governors of Missouri and Kansas announced on Monday that they will not institute vaccine passports for citizens.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said that although he doesn’t support state-mandated vaccine passports, he is OK with private companies adopting them. “If the private sector wants to do that, I’m fine with that,” Parson said. “As far as the state goes, we won’t mandate vaccine passports.”

After some confusion over his comments, 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.”

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

“I have no interest in vaccine passports,” she said. “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.”

READ: Vaccine passports banned by Missouri Senate

The news comes as the White House announced Tuesday it will not pursue vaccine passports as national policy.

Earlier talk of passports by the Biden administration received considerable pushback from both Democrat and Republican governors across the nation. The American Civil Liberties Union also said it would oppose the passport concept, saying it was an infringement on personal privacy rights.

“The government is not now, nor will we be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential,” White House spokesperson Jan Psaki told reporters. “There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

States have already moved to ban what they see as government overreach.

Although there currently is no legislative effort to ban vaccine passports in Kansas, members of the state legislature have proposed a resolution 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.

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.

As businesses, including airlines, talk about requiring proof of vaccination, privacy groups say it’s illegal and would violate medical privacy laws. Privacy groups say that they would likely lose considerable revenue as shoppers and diners avoid the invitation of privacy.

A number of states have explicitly banned the government from implementing a vaccine passport 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. Texas has also banned vaccine passports.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice