Vaccine information won’t go on Louisiana driver’s license — whether legislation passes or not

A bill that prohibits vaccine information from being included on a driver’s license moves forward

A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington D.C. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

The Louisiana House will take up legislation that would prohibit vaccine information from being included on a person’s driver’s license or state identification card, though the bill won’t have much impact if passed.

Current state law does not allow vaccine information to go onto a person’s driver’s license. The proposed legislation will effectively just reinforce the law that is already in place. It applies to the COVID-19 vaccine as well as all other medical inoculations. 

“Vaccination records are unrelated to driving privileges,” said Rep. Kathy Edmonston, R-Gonzales, who sponsored the proposal.

The legislation moved out of the House Transportation, Highways and Public Works committee without any objection from either the Republican or Democratic committee members. Next, it will go to the Louisiana House floor for a vote. 

The bill appears to be a response to concerns over vaccine passports –a concept that is not being seriously considered in Louisiana or at the federal level that would allow people vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel more freely. 

Some European countries and Israel have decided to issue vaccine passports. New York is also considering such a passport, but this isn’t necessarily a new concept. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries required foreigners entering their borders to get certain vaccines before arriving.

The legislation was being pushed by Health Freedom Louisiana, an advocacy group that opposes a large swath of vaccine requirements, including those required for school attendance.

In spite of supporting the bill, several lawmakers on the committee expressed an interest in having their COVID-19 vaccination card added to LA Wallet — a digital app that can hold an electronic copy of a person’s driver’s license. LA Wallet is supposed to eventually include people’s hunting licenses, vehicle registration and other state government documents in electronic form. 

“I would love something like a driver’s license that would give that information” about my vaccine status, said Rep. Barbara Freiberg, R-Baton Rouge. 

Vaccination information could also be added to LA Wallet if the Louisiana Legislature enacted legislation to do so, but no such bill is moving through the statehouse this spring.