Pa. Republicans want to ban vaccine passports, Democrats call it an unneeded distraction

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A new bill about banning vaccine passports in Pennsylvania is causing some controversy, but not in the way you might think.

Republican Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill introduced the bill along with two other state senators.

“It essentially says that state government cannot require a vaccine passport for a citizen in Pennsylvania to participate in their daily lives,” Phillips-Hill said. “It’s government overreach, it’s too difficult and people just don’t want to see it.”

Democrats are skeptical that’s their real motive. Democratic Rep. Ryan Bizzarro says they don’t want vaccine passports either.

“This is something a group of senators decided to do to get a little bit of attention and rally up their radical base, period,” Bizzarro said. “Not only is it a non-issue, it’s a non-starter. Nobody down in Harrisburg is talking about a vaccination passport.”

Governor Tom Wolf addressed concerns about vaccine passports weeks ago.

“The state is not considering anything like that at this point,” Wolf said.

Republicans say if everyone agrees it doesn’t hurt to have it written into law.

“We have heard the Governor say one thing and then turn around and do the other thing. So this is an opportunity to legally assure that Pennsylvania doesn’t go down this path,” Phillips-Hill said.

Democrats argue just having this discussion is damaging to the ultimate goal of getting everyone vaccinated.

“Instead of focusing on issues that are further dividing us, and further causing friction between the public, we should be talking about actually getting vaccinations into arms,” Bizzarro said. “That’s what’s important moving forward.”

A spokeswoman with Governor Wolf said on Wednesday that his position on vaccine passports hasn’t changed.

She said in a statement, “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. It is dangerous and will undoubtedly lead to the loss of more lives in the commonwealth. At a time when Pennsylvania is accelerating vaccinations and everyone age 16 and older is eligible, we need all elected officials to stop politicizing the pandemic and encourage their constituents to take it seriously and get a vaccine so we can all return to normal.”

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