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Published April 7, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
Governor Lee and other Tennessee legislators are speaking out publicly in opposition of the rumored “vaccine passports”, a policy that would require individuals to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.
“I think vaccine passports are a bad idea,” Lee stated. “I do not believe governments should impose vaccine requirements or mandates in any way and I’m working with the legislature to support legislation that backs that up.”
At this time, there is no record of any government entity in Tennessee forcing businesses to check proof of vaccination before serving individuals.
Lee is currently supporting legislation in the General Assembly that looks more deeply into current vaccination requirements for public schools. It does not, however, keep private businesses from instituting their own policies that would require vaccine passports.
While Governor Lee is not in favor of vaccine passports, he is in favor of allowing private business to make their own decision on the matter.
“I don’t think it’s in the best interest of our state for businesses to impose restrictions and mandates for vaccines, but I also don’t think government should impose itself in the private affairs of business practices,” Lee said. “We’re encouraging businesses in that way, but we’re not going to restrict them.”
The bill passed the House health subcommittee on Tuesday.
Representative John Ragan, a Republican from Oak Ridge, made the statement in one committee that a neighboring county had implemented vaccine passport requirements, but when asked twice, he was unable or unwilling to provide the name of this county.
Representative Jason Zachary of Knoxville stated that Knox County has had no discussions regarding vaccine passport requirements, and Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department spokesperson Brian Todd also expressed the department’s opposition a mandate of the vaccine passport.
“The Metro Public Health Department does not have any plans to require proof of vaccination,” said Todd. “A private business or company does have the right to require proof if they feel like it is in their best interest.”
Lee also stated that public universities should not be allowed to require the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I think that private institutions have decisions they make on their own,” Lee stated. “I think government agencies should not have vaccine requirements.”
At one point during the pandemic, the University of Tennessee said that a COVID-19 vaccine would be required of students if it was available. However, they are no longer trying to make that mandatory.
“In the interest of public health, we strongly encourage all faculty, students, and staff to receive the vaccine as soon as they are eligible,” stated UT spokesperson Jennifer Sicking. “The UT system will continue to monitor COVID numbers to determine if additional measures are needed.”
The University of Tennessee system currently already requires that full time students show proof of vaccinations.
Conservative leaders in other states have also spoke out on the issue. Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order that prohibited government-mandated vaccine passports, except in the case of private businesses.
The White House also made a statement opposing any federal mandate for a vaccine passport.
“The government is not now, nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential. There will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential,” stated Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Representative Jeremy Faison is expressed doubt in the statement from the President and His Administration.
“If it’s truly what the president and Vice President Kamala Harris believe, then bravo. You’ve got it right this time. Like I said, I’m not trusting them 100% right now, but if that’s truly what they’re signaling, if that’s truly what they believe – that we shouldn’t have any sort of vaccine passport – bravo to them, they got something right, and I would say that even a broken clock is right twice a day,” said Faison.