New Jersey legislators on both sides of the aisle are working to penalize anyone who would create fake COVID-19 vaccination verification cards, while others seek to ensure legitimate cards can’t be used as part of proposed “vaccination passport” programs.
Under legislation introduced by State Sens. Nicholas Scutari (D-22) and Joe Cryan (D-20), criminal penalties would be established for those who produce, sell, or use false COVID-19 vaccination verification cards.
“As the number of vaccinated citizens continues to rise, it is imperative that we have a plan in place to appropriately address potential bad actors who may attempt to deceive others with a fake COVID-19 vaccination verification card,” said Scutari.
Cryan noted the state had made great strides in combating the virus through its vaccination efforts, saying the state “must work to prevent counterfeit cards from impeding upon the progress we have made.”
Preventing Government Overreach
Down the hall in Trenton, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26) introduce legislation that would prohibit government offices from discriminating against individuals who did not receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We must protect an individual’s liberty to make their own medical decisions in concert with health care professionals and prevent a government power grab,” said DeCroce. “Mandating COVID-19 vaccination is unethical and my bill will make it unlawful.”
Under the legislation, state, county, and municipal governments would be prohibited from asking individuals if they were vaccinated, or require proof that they were. Violations could result in civil damages and an award of $10,000 to victims.
“I don’t ever want to see a government agency mandating COVID-19 vaccination prior to a person participating in a taxpayer-supported program,” said DeCroce. “We know there has been inequitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine and it is paramount that vaccinations remain a personal choice.”
Legislation to Ban Vaccine Passports Launched
Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-13) announced she would sponsor and introduce legislation banning the use of the vaccination cards for “passport” use. The legislation would ban state-level efforts mandating that New Jersey businesses require vaccination passports.
“Creating a vaccine passport to attend a ballgame, go to a Broadway show or visit a museum is tantamount to mandating the vaccine,” said DiMaso.
She first started work on the legislation following an appearance by Gov. Phil Murphy on CNBC where he indicated he would be open to these sorts of programs.
“I don’t have to carry a passport for any of my other vaccines, why should we force people to do that with this one?” asked DiMaso, whose bill is being introduced in the Senate by State Sen. Michael Testa (R-1). “He and I have been staunch supporters of allowing residents to make this decision with guidance from their health care professional.”