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Iowa governor voices opposition to ‘vaccine passports’

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that more than 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine (83% of all doses received) have been administered in the state. Forty-four percent of Iowan adults have received at least one dose and 87% of individuals have had at least one vaccine dose and 28% of Iowans are now fully vaccinated.

In her April 7 news conference, the governor noted Iowa ranks tenth in the nation in terms of using its vaccine supply and is “about ninth in the country” for full vaccination, she said.

All Iowans 16 and older, as of April 5, have become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The state’s local public health departments and pharmacies combined received the largest allocation, 160,770 doses (including 45,800 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine), this week to distribute, Reynolds said.

“Those Johnson & Johnson doses will allow us to continue the remaining employer vaccination clinics, begin vaccinating college students this week and support our local public health departments’ efforts to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations,” Reynolds said. “However, the White House COVID response team did inform governors yesterday that we are going to see a significant reduction in J&J doses next week and that we should expect lower allocations [of J&J doses] until the end of the month, when the weekly supply should increase to 8 million doses nationwide.”

Reynolds said that much of the recent uptick in COVID-19 seen nationwide “can be attributed to individuals that are 18 to 24 years of age,” who risk spreading the coronavirus to older family members and coworkers. Vaccination rates are lower among middle-aged adults, who have become a more substantial portion of the people hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment, she said.

“We’re just seeing 35% of Iowans in their 40s and about 39% in their 50s have had at least one dose of vaccine,” Reynold said. “So now that the vaccination is open to all Iowans, we have an opportunity – and really we have a responsibility – to change that. So I’m asking Iowans, if you’re comfortable, please take the first vaccination that’s offered to you rather than wait for one that you believe is better than the others.”

She also spoke against the concept of “vaccine passports” – the requirement to carry a credential proving receipt of the COVID-19 vaccination.

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

During a question and answer session with reporters, she said that questions with these passports include infringing on privacy, Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy protections, and First and Fourth Amendment rights.

“I think what you’re doing when you move forward with something like [vaccine passports] is you’re creating a two-tiered society [in which] you’re either engaged or you’re marginalized,” she said. “I think, what are they doing with the data? It’s more big government overseeing what’s happening. We want to make sure that that doesn’t move forward in the state of Iowa based on what they would do at the federal level.”

Lawmakers and governors in more than a dozen states, including Minnesota and Tennessee, have proposed legislation or issued executive orders banning or restricting vaccine passports.

COVID-19 has been noted as the underlying cause of death for nearly 5,200 people in Iowa, according to the state’s dashboard.

This article was originally posted on Iowa governor voices opposition to ‘vaccine passports’

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