Kemp signs bill to ban COVID-19 ‘vaccine passports’

Gov. Kemp says he will fight federal vaccine mandate. (AJC file photo / Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Ben Gray

caption arrowCaption
Gov. Kemp says he will fight federal vaccine mandate. (AJC file photo / Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Ben Gray

Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation Tuesday that would ban any state or local agency, government or school from requiring anyone to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

The legislation, Senate Bill 345, passed on a party-line vote with Kemp’s support.

“We will always stand up for the rights of our people against government overreach,” the governor said.

The ban on what is sometimes referred to as a “vaccine passport” would not apply to healthcare providers and would allow government agencies to require vaccines if the state loses its legal challenge of President Joe Biden’s policy making federal contractors get vaccinated.

It would be lifted June 30, 2023.

Rep. Bonnie Rich, a Suwanee Republican and the sponsor of the legislation in the House, said the bill does not question the effectiveness of the vaccine, but instead makes sure Georgians have a choice about what they have injected into their bodies.

But Democrats said the measure would increase distrust of the vaccine while putting lives at risk.

The bill was overhauled after its original version would have prohibited the government, including k-12 public schools, from requiring any vaccines.

Currently, schools require students to get vaccines to protect from diseases such as measles, tuberculosis and chickenpox. At the time, the measure’s sponsor said that version of the bill was introduced in error.