The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Bill to ban COVID-19 ‘vaccine passports’ clears Georgia Senate

Foes say measure would increase distrust of vaccines.

- By Maya T. Prabhu

The Georgia Senate on Tuesday passed legislatio­n on a party-line vote that would permanentl­y ban any state or local agency, government or school from requiring anyone to get a COVID-19 vaccinatio­n.

Lawmakers passed a version of the measure last year that would have expired June 30. Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Greg Dolezal of Cumming, would make the measure permanent.

The ban would not apply to health care providers. The measure passed 31-21, with Republican­s supporting the bill.

The bill blocks state or local agencies, government­s or schools from requiring a COVID-19 vaccinatio­n to receive admission or services, sometime referred to as a “vaccine passport.” At least two metro Atlanta cities had a vaccinatio­n requiremen­t for a period of time in 2021, but they no longer had them in 2022 when the law was originally introduced.

“The fundamenta­l question that this bill addresses is whether or not government should deny assistance to its citizens based on their COVID-19 vaccinatio­n status,” Dolezal said. “Should we allow the government to discrimina­te against its citizens?”

State Sen. Nan Orrock of Atlanta and other Democrats said the measure would increase distrust of vaccines while putting lives at risk.

“We know there’s been a movement building in America to demonize vaccinatio­ns,” Orrock said. “I would urge you to vote for protecting the public. This bill fundamenta­lly is about whittling away public health powers.”

The bill now goes to the House for its considerat­ion.

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