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Phillips-Hill bill would ban 'vaccine passports'; Wolf has said they won't be required

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

Government entities and schools would be prohibited from requiring proof that someone has received their COVID-19 vaccinations under legislation introduced by state Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill last week.

The York Township Republican and two GOP colleagues on May 5 introduced the bill to ban what are more widely known as "vaccine passports" — even though Gov. Tom Wolf has already said he has no plans to require them at the state level.

“Our goal should be focused on getting the vaccine to those who want it but not punish those individuals who have made a personal choice," Phillips-Hill said.

Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) presents a citation in commemoration of Austin L. Grove American Legion Post 403's 100th anniversary celebration in Glen Rock, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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Phillips-Hill's legislation lays out that the state, counties, municipalities and school districts would be prohibited from requiring proof that someone is vaccinated for COVID-19.

The lawmakers argue that the legislation would ease the concerns of residents who are skeptical of government mandates that may infringe on their personal rights.

Wolf's administration, however, argues that the bill is another dangerous example of Republicans politicizing the pandemic.

"Nothing has changed on the governor’s position on vaccine passports. Certain Republicans in the Legislature, however, continue to politicize a global public health crisis and are using this frivolous legislation to do so," said Wolf spokesperson Lyndsay Kensinger.

Brittany Crampsie, spokesperson for the Senate Democratic Caucus, echoed Kensinger's comments.

Phillips-Hill's legislation now sits in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Health experts have said that ramping up vaccinations is the best way to prevent future surges in COVID-19 cases.

It has also been noted by local health officials that most of those who want to be vaccinated likely have already been served, while those who are skeptical of the vaccine still need to be convinced.

At least six states, including Arizona and Georgia, have banned requiring proof of vaccinations through executive orders or legislation, Forbes has reported. All of the states have Republican governors.

That comes despite the fact that  President Joe Biden also has said his administration won't require vaccine passports at the federal level.

As of Tuesday, 42,943 York County residents had been partially vaccinated and 137,918 residents had been fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health.

Statewide, 1,748,289 residents had been partially vaccinated and 3,939,478 residents had been fully vaccinated.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.