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Reynolds says it’s time to ‘take a stand’ against vaccination passports

JOHNSTON — While hundreds of thousands of Iowans have been vaccinated for Covid-19, with thousands more getting the shots daily, Governor Kim Reynolds says they shouldn’t have to carry a “vaccine passport” to prove it to anyone.

“I strongly oppose vaccine passports and I believe that we must take a stand as a state against them,” Reynolds said Wednesday, “which I intend to do either through legislation or executive action.”

Vaccine passports have already been banned via executive orders by the governors of Texas and Florida. The statement by Reynolds, a Republican, comes after the Biden administration announced Tuesday it would not create a federal vaccine passport or require travelers or businesses to be inoculated. A spokesman for the governor said federal officials may change their minds, so state action is necessary.

“While I believe in the efficacy of the vaccine enough to get it myself and encourage Iowans to do the same, I also respect that it’s a personal choice,” Reynolds said during a news conference.

The governor told reporters a federal vaccine passport would have privacy implications and might be unconstitutional.

“What you’re doing when you move forward with something like that is you’re creating a two-tiered society,” Reynolds said. “You’re either engaged or you’re marginalized.”

Reynolds plans to meet with lawmakers to discuss whether a bill can be passed before the 2021 legislative session ends this spring, or if she needs to take executive action.

“Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve consistently put my trust in Iowans to do the right thing rather than demand or mandate it,” Reynolds said, “and vaccination is no different.”

A bill stalled in the Senate this year that would have prohibited Iowa businesses and health care facilities from requiring that employees get vaccinations. The bill also sought to bar health insurance companies from denying coverage based on a lack of immunizations.

Reynolds announced late this morning that 44% of adult Iowans have had at least one dose and 28% of Iowans eligible for Covid shots are fully vaccinated. However, she said vaccination rates among middle aged Iowans are lagging and 61% of the people with Covid who are hospitalized in Iowa are in their 40s and 50s and 60s.

“I’m asking Iowans, if you’re comfortable, please take the first vaccine that’s offered to you rather than wait for one that you believe is better than the others,” Reynolds said. “Everyone of the vaccines are safe and effective, especially at preventing serious illness that can result in hospitalization and death.”

Reynolds used a portion of her weekly news conference to highlight efforts in Storm Lake to boost vaccination rates among Latinos. A mass vaccination clinic in Storm Lake is planned for Sunday April 18.

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