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Tennessee governor joins GOP push against vaccine passports

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has joined fellow Republicans nationwide to advocate against COVID-19 vaccine passports, which are being developed to let inoculated people travel, shop and dine more freely.

The Republican tweeted Tuesday that he supports legislation to prohibit governments from requiring the passports.

"I am supporting legislation to prohibit any government-mandated vaccine passports to protect the privacy of Tennesseans' health information and ensure this vaccine remains a voluntary, personal decision," Lee said.

The passports show whether someone has been vaccinated or recently tested negative for COVID-19.

They currently exist only in one state — New York — via a government-sponsored smartphone app produced in partnership with a private company. But Republicans nationwide are pursuing proposals to ban their use as a restriction against people's activities.

Backers of vaccine passports argue that they are similar to other safety measures for schools and overseas travel that require proof of immunization against various diseases.

Vaccine passports are in use in Israel and under development in parts of Europe, since they are seen as a way to safely help rebuild the pandemic-devastated travel industry.

Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has said he considered the passports a project for the private sector, not the government.

Tennessee's proposal was slated for its first legislative committee action Tuesday.

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Thank you Governor Lee for your stance on this issue. Personal medical information should NEVER be a public matter and these passports are ripe for fraud and invasion of privacy. For this reason, many will reject this 'experimenta, gene therapy' shot. But, if one choses to take it, they should at least demand and be afforded, the individual rights to privacy. These type decisions should be personal - passports will make it a public affair. Unfortunately, our state legislators are not as strong or bold on this issue as the governor. Shame on them. They've dropped the ball recently at the behest of a very strong lobby, the Hospital Association. One state senator in objection to SB 127 was quoted, saying, "We have to protect the 'rights' of our Hospitals!" Really, I've never read any constitutional scholars on the rights of such organizations - maybe it's because there aren't any such rights! Maybe if the state legislature would just focus on individual rights, they'd have the spine to stand up against the big money lobbyist in the medical profession!

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