JOHNSTON, Iowa (KWWL) — During Wednesday’s COVID-19 press conference, Gov. Reynolds pushed against the idea of vaccine passports, a potential system that would require individuals to present proof of vaccination before entering public spaces.
Reynolds stressed that she will not issue any vaccine requirements in the state, and says she will take action against vaccine passports. The governor reiterated her sentiment of asking Iowans to do the right thing rather than requiring them to do so.
“While I believe in the efficacy of the vaccine enough to get it myself and encourage Iowans to do the same, I also respect that it’s a personal choice,” Reynolds said. “But I strongly oppose vaccine passports, and I believe that we must take a stand as a state against them, which I intend to do either through legislation or executive action. I will also continue to do my part to educate and encourage Iowans about the importance of being vaccinated.”
The Biden administration is also saying that it won’t back any kind of vaccine passport or credential system.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday, “there will be no federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”
Reynolds raised several questions regarding the concept, including privacy implications, HIPAA protections, and first and fourth amendment rights.
“I think what you’re doing when you move forward with something like that is you’re creating a two-tiered society,” Reynolds said.
Psaki also said the White House wants to be sure that “American’s privacy and rights” are protected.
In terms of the state’s vaccination progress, Reynolds said that 28% of Iowans are now fully vaccinated, putting the state at 9th in the country.
The White House informed governors on Tuesday that there will be a significant reduction in Johnson & Johnson doses for two weeks until the end of them month, when the weekly supply should increase again.
Until then, Reynolds said that Johnson & Johnson doses will continue to be “allocated for college vaccinations and others who may benefit from a single-dose vaccine.”
Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health have said that it is important to get college students and staff vaccinated before returning home in the summer.
The governor also addressed the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, which is being attributed to younger individuals 18 to 24 years old statewide and nationally.
Now that vaccinations are open to Iowans over the age of 16, she is encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Reynolds noted that while hospitalizations continue to remain stable, the highest percentage of current COVID-19 hospitalizations has shifted to middle-aged adults.
The vaccination rate among middle-aged adults is below 40%, according to Reynolds.
“I’m asking Iowans if you’re comfortable, please take the first vaccine that’s offered to you rather than wait for one that you believe is better than the others,” Reynolds said. “Every one of the vaccines, they are safe and effective especially at preventing serious illness that can result in serious hospitalization and death.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.