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 the exemption language was problematic and would be difficult to enforce.
In other coronavirus-related news:
JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE
The state of New Hampshire is allowing additional appointments for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at three of its sites.
The 4,500 appointments are available in the state’s scheduling system, VINI, for Sunday in the Concord, Nashua and Newington vaccination clinics.
The Sunday clinics are not open to walk-in appointments. They will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. People with later appointments can reschedule for an appointment for Sunday.
More than 94,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, including 273 cases announced Tuesday. No new deaths were announced. There have been 1,294 reported deaths.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire decreased over the past two weeks, going from 443 new cases per day on April 11 to 291 new cases per day on Sunday.