Greg Abbott issues order prohibiting 'vaccine passports'

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday issued an executive order prohibiting so-called "vaccine passports," saying a system to track those who have been inoculated against COVID-19 infringes on citizens' rights.

"Every day, Texans are returning to normal life as more people get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. But, as I've said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced," Abbott said in announcing the executive order.

"Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives," he added. "That is why I have issued an executive order that prohibits government-mandated 'vaccine passports' in Texas. We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health — and we will do so without treading on Texans' personal freedoms."

Abbott has come under heat in recent weeks for lifting of a statewide mask mandate and his handling of a major snowstorm that left residents without power and heat for days. 

Another Republican, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, last week vowed to take similar executive action to prevent companies from requiring "vaccine passports" before providing services to customers. 

“We always said we wanted to provide it for all but mandate it for none,” DeSantis said. “And that was something that, while it was advised to take particularly if you’re vulnerable, we were not going to force you to do it.”

DeSantis called it "completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply participate in normal society." 

On Monday, Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said the federal government will not mandate documentation of COVID-19 vaccinations.

"I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a 'vaccine passport' concept," Fauci said. "They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is gonna be the leading element of that."