Back in April 2021, we posted a letter to the GGRWC Blog that had been signed by sixty-five (65) Republican members of the North Carolina (NC) House of Representatives to Governor Cooper that urged Governor Cooper not to create a vaccine passport or any other form of government-required identification to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Well, that was then! Now, we find out that the Cooper Administration quietly—so very, very, very quietly—launched its very own state-certified vaccine information card. Yes, you read that correctly! North Carolina has a vaccine passport!
Back in April 2021, we posted a letter to the GGRWC Blog that had been signed by sixty-five (65) Republican members of the North Carolina (NC) House of Representatives to Governor Cooper that urged Governor Cooper not to create a vaccine passport or any other form of government-required identification to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Well, that was then!
Now, we find out that the Cooper Administration quietly—so very, very, very quietly—launched its very own state-certified vaccine information card. Yes, you read that correctly! North Carolina has a vaccine passport! You can go here: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov, or you can go here: https://covid-vaccine-portal.ncdhhs.gov.
Obtaining a NC vaccine passport is not mandatory, but does that really matter? The Carolina Journal (see CJ Daily Update, Friday, July 16, 2021) refers to it as a “distinction without a difference.” For those citizens opposed to getting the vaccine, may/will they be treated differently (discriminated against) from those that do get the vaccine and show proof of it? The answer seems to be a resounding “yes.” The assertion “open to the public” could easily become “open only to the vaccinated public.”
On the first website identified above, there are a set of frequently asked questions. Here are several official “questions and answers” that make those who forego the vaccination second-class citizens:
“Providing Proof of Vaccination –
- Question: If asked, do I have to provide proof or vaccination?
Answer: Employers, businesses, or universities can require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine, or a valid medical or religious exemption. Employers may ask if you have been vaccinated but cannot require that you share any other personal medical information.
- Question: My teen’s school/sports team/summer camp is asking for proof of vaccination. Do I have to provide it?
Answer: The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction does not currently require proof that youth have received a COVID-19 vaccination to participate in school-related activities. [However], [p]rivate businesses that host summer camps or sports teams can require proof of vaccination to take part in certain activities, such as sports teams or camps.
- Question: How can I prove that I’ve been vaccinated?
Answer: The CDC vaccination card you received when you were vaccinated for COVID-19 can serve as proof of vaccination. Many North Carolinians can also access their COVID-19 vaccine information in the North Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Portal, including anyone who: (1) received their vaccine from a NC provider, and (2) provided an email address to a NC vaccine provider.”
The Carolina Journal quotes Jon Sanders, research editor and senior fellow, Regulatory Studies, for the John Locke Foundation –
“I think it is an absolute joke that they’re trying to make people feel comfortable that the information is private, after establishing that it’s pretty much anybody’s business to ask…..Furthermore, I would love for someone to ask why there’s … no way to provide equally valid proof of natural immunity from prior infection regardless of whether it was officially diagnosed, [and] when it comes to the previously infected, no state-certified tool exists to prove what the National Institutes of Health describes as “durable” long-term immune protection…for those that have recovered from a previous infection….”
It is clear that vaccine passports have divided people and will continue to do so –
- “I know it’s for the benefit of others’ safety, but another part of me thinks this is a form of control that they’re trying to put over people.”
- “I’m completely fine with the possibility of having to show proof because I mean, it may eventually help us get to a more regular society.”
- “For instance, I’m vaccinated, but that’s my personal health history and I don’t think anybody else has a right to infringe upon that or ask. I definitely recommend the vaccine from a public health point of view. But I don’t think it should be mandatory just to go about activities and daily living.”
- “I think having some kind of secure indication that you’ve got the vaccine will be helpful…. And there are going be a lot of businesses that want their people to be vaccinated in order to use their services.”
(See Mackenzie Stasko, People react to possibility of COVID-19 ‘vaccine passports’ in NC, CBS17.com, April 2, 2021.)
But, what is unclear is what the North Carolina General Assembly will do now that vaccine passports are here in the State.
See NC House Bill 876, introduced in early May 2021, entitled, Vaccination Private Choice Protection Act. The bill, among other things, (1) prohibits the State of North Carolina or any political subdivision from issuing a COVID-19 vaccine passport, (2) protects against employment-related discrimination based on an employee’s refusal of experimental vaccines, (3) protects an individual’s right against required vaccinations of any sort during declared disasters and emergencies, and (4) prohibits required disclosure of any vaccine status under any circumstance. The bill was referred to and appears to be still in the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.
See also NC House Bill 779, also introduced in early May 2021, titled, Coronavirus Vaccine Bill of Rights. Among other things, this bill provides that “[n]o person shall be mandated, coerced, forced, or pressured to take any of the coronavirus vaccines. The bill also provides the following:
“No person shall be required to provide proof of having received any of the coronavirus vaccines as a condition of doing any of the following:
- Entering any public buildings, public lands, or public spaces owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the State.
- Participating in any public events.
- Accessing any public transportation.
- Attending any public school or educational institution.
- Obtaining or maintaining employment with any public or private employer.”
This bill was also referred to and appears to be still in the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.
Please note that while HB 779 and HB 876 appear mostly to prohibit actions taken only by the State, the new DHHS vaccine passport (optional, but not really) requirements are addressed to what vaccine actions can be taken by private employers, businesses, and other entities. Under HBs 876 and 779, any item prohibiting discrimination in private employment directly contradicts the new DHHS vaccine passport policy that private business employers can require proof of the vaccine. This sets up a righteous legal battle to come.
One further question: How was the State able to implement this optional-but-not-really requirement without either an executive order from Cooper or legislative action by the General Assembly? Isn’t this unconstitutional under the NC State’s Constitution? Could be, but someone will probably have to litigate the issue, with a decision several years from now.
So, while we await action from the NC House on these two bills, just know that vaccine passports are here in North Carolina, whether you like it or not!
I hope this is of value!