Tennessee Senate passes ban on government-mandated ‘vaccine passports’

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(AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tennessee Senate has passed a bill prohibiting government-mandated “vaccine passports.”

Senators voted 27–3 Wednesday to send Senate Bill 858 to the House.

The measure prohibits local governments and the state “from requiring, or mandating that a private business require, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of entering upon the premises of the business or utilizing services provided by the business.”

It also strips authority from county boards of health and moves them to an advisory role.

Most Tennessee county health departments operate directly under the state health department. However, six larger, more urban counties — Madison, Shelby, Knox, Davidson, Hamilton, and Sullivan — have health departments that operate under local governance, which can include a board of health.

The Sullivan County Regional Health Department is part of the county government and does not operate under a board of health.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee announced his opposition to vaccine passports last week.

The House will have to pass the bill before it can head to the governor’s desk.

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