As the number of people across the country receiving COVID-19 vaccinations increases, so does national talk of “vaccine passports.”

With nearly the same speed, two Ohio lawmakers have introduced legislation to prohibit the passports in Ohio.

Reps. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, and Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, became the first to sponsor the bill that would head off attempts of what essentially would be government-required vaccines.

“Ohioans are encouraged to take the COVID-19 vaccine for the health and well-being of themselves and others,” Rep. Cutrona said. “However, a vaccine should not be mandated or required by our government for our people to integrate back to a sense of normalcy. We’ve had restrictions on our freedom for over a year and more restrictions or mandates are not the answer to every issue related to COVID-19.”

Rep. Loychik echoed the idea that vaccine passports do not coincide with a free society and could create issues with economic recovery.

“First and foremost, vaccine passports have no place in a free society,” Rep. Loychik said. “Simultaneously, while everyone has a right to get a vaccine, a massive adoption of vaccine passports, both across our state and nation, would only lead to a slow economic recovery and further hinder businesses as we all seek to get back to normal.”

Rep. Cutrona, who is COO at an infectious disease practice in Mahoning County, also believes privacy issues are arising.

New York became the first state to adopt a vaccine passport program, calling it an “Excelsior Pass,” which is going to use QR code technology to allow individuals into venues.

“We’re taking steps to protect people’s rights here in Ohio,” Rep. Loychik said. “The last thing we should do is follow Andrew Cuomo and New York to implement this type of mandated program.”

The bill is still in the process of seeking co-sponsors and has not been assigned to a committee.

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