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Wyoming governor prohibits vaccine passports for state entities
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Wyoming governor prohibits vaccine passports for state entities

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Vaccine Clinic

Senior Pharmacy Technician Dallas Messenger grabs a syringe prepared with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the COVID-19 vaccine clinic hosted March 25 at Community Health Center of Central Wyoming in Casper. The clinic partnered with Walgreens to administer 130 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Gov. Mark Gordon signed a directive Friday prohibiting prohibited state entities from requiring “vaccine passports.”

Requirements that individuals show proof of having a COVID-19 inoculation, or “vaccine passports” have become a controversial topic. Several countries have adopted the measure or have shared plans to do so. Some private businesses, like certain airlines, say they will require proof of vaccination, too. In the U.S., the debate is split.

“I have serious concerns that a mandated vaccine passport program has the potential to politicize a decision that should not be politicized,” Gordon wrote in his directive, which was shared in a press release Friday.

The directive prohibits “state agencies, boards and commissions” from denying someone access to facilities or services based on their COVID-19 vaccination status. The directive also prohibits those entities from sharing an individual’s vaccination status without their consent.

The directive only covers state entities, meaning counties and municipalities aren’t bound by the rules, though Gordon does encourage local governments to follow suit. He encourages private businesses to do so as well. The directive does encourage residents to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which are now available to any Wyomingite 16 years or older.

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“Widespread vaccination among Wyomingites will move the state forward, protect jobs and our economy, and, most importantly, save lives,” the directives reads, later adding that while he encourages vaccination, “I consider it a personal choice based upon personal circumstances.”

Gordon joins a list of Republican governors to expressly forbid the practice. Vaccine requirement bans, passed both through executive action and state statute, exist in a growing number of states, including Texas, Montana, Florida, Idaho and Utah.

The American public is divided, too. A slim majority of respondents to an April Gallup poll said they support vaccine passports for air travel (57%) and attendance at large events (55%.) But opinion flips for less populated environments.

“However, there is less public support for proving vaccination to go to one’s workplace (45%), stay in a hotel (44%) or dine indoors at a restaurant (40%), with majorities opposing it in each instance,” the poll results explain.

In Wyoming, vaccine uptake has significantly slowed. The state was among national leaders for getting shots in arms in the early days of vaccine availability. Now, just three states rank poorer than Wyoming for how many people have had one shot and eight states report worse totals for total vaccine coverage.

Just over 29% of Wyoming residents are fully vaccinated. About 35% have received at least one shot. The national average for those with one shot is about 45%. The average for those fully vaccinated is about 33%, according to data analysis by the New York Times.

Follow health and education reporter Morgan Hughes on Twitter @m0rgan_hughes

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Health and education reporter

Morgan Hughes covers health and education in Wyoming. After growing up in rural Wisconsin, she graduated from Marquette University in 2018. She moved to Wyoming shortly after and covered education in Cheyenne before joining the Star-Tribune in May 2019.

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