Measure would bar NH from requiring vaccine ‘passports’

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Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 7:16 PM EDT
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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire is not developing or requiring “vaccine passports,” documents that show you were vaccinated against COVID-19, but a proposed legislative measure would prohibit state government from requiring people to receive the vaccine or possess the passport.

The measure also would prohibit the state from entering into any contract or distributing taxpayer money to any business that would require the passport, or would in any way discriminate against someone who refuses to receive the vaccine.

“Vaccine passports could discriminate against people flying, traveling, trying to get a job, or even something as simple as going to the supermarket,” Rep. Tim Baxter, R-Seabrook, its sponsor, testified before the House Committee on Executive Departments and Administration on Tuesday.

Baxter said the measure would bar an institution like the University of New Hampshire from mandating a vaccine passport. UNH will require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests for guests attending graduation ceremonies next month, “so I do think that’s a very real example of sort of slipping down that slippery slope,” Baxter said.

The measure does say medical facilities treating COVID-19 patients shall be exempt, “where a direct threat exists that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.”

Beth Daly, chief of the state’s Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, testified that language suggests that employers are making the determination of what a “direct threat” is, “which would likely lead to inconsistent application of the law throughout the state.”

“It also opens the door to future restrictions on immunization requirements, and may have other unintended consequences,” she added.

Her department did not take a position for or against the measure.

Representatives of the New Hampshire Hospital Association, the Home Care, Hospice & Palliative Care Alliance of New Hampshire, Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire testified against the measure, saying the exemption language was problematic and would be difficult to enforce.

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