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

Republican state Sen. Greg Dolezeal of Cumming talks about his bill that would stop state agencies from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations. The Senate approved the bill Tuesday, and it's now headed to the House for its consideration. (Natrice Miller/ Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Republican state Sen. Greg Dolezeal of Cumming talks about his bill that would stop state agencies from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations. The Senate approved the bill Tuesday, and it's now headed to the House for its consideration. (Natrice Miller/ Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

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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