OC supervisors pause vaccine passport plan as hundreds protest outside meeting

Tony Cabrera Image
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Hundreds protest against OC's vaccine passport plan
Hundreds of people protested outside the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting, fighting against a voluntary digital vaccine passport that would allow people to prove they've been vaccinated.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Hundreds of people on Tuesday protested outside the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting, fighting against a voluntary digital vaccine passport that would allow people to prove they've been vaccinated.

The outrage spilled inside, with more than 700 people signing up to speak.

"This is against the law. It would strip us of our privacy rights," said one of the speakers.

"You are not going to brand us with a barcode like we are cattle. The Nazis looked like they were winning, too, for a little while," said another.

From business owners to lawyers to everyday residents, the list of speakers went on for hours.

"Being that I am a Black American, and you're asking me now to carry 'freedom papers' is absolutely appalling. I will bring every Black member of this community back down here if this goes any further," said a speaker.

RELATED: Orange County officials battling conspiracy theories over vaccination, tracking

Orange County officials are battling back against anti-vaccine rhetoric and misinformation amid criticisms of a new app that some claim would invade their privacy.

"This isn't communist Russia, this isn't communist China, this isn't Nazi Germany. We should have the freedom. The Jews had passports, look what that led to," said another.

Katrina Foley is the one supervisor who stands firm in favor of a vaccine passport. She believes most people support it and that only a small faction of people are against it.

"These individuals are mostly people who don't believe in vaccinating in the first place. They're also people who in the past year have denied that COVID exists, denied the pandemic, have marched on our United States Capitol, participated in the insurrection," said Foley.

She wants to remind people that the passport is voluntary and solely for convenience.

"It's never been mandated. That's false. That's misleading information. That's the misinformation campaign that they've been trying to scare people with," she said.

She says no one should ever use the Holocaust as a comparison to contemporary issues.

The other four board members voted to pause any progress made in establishing a digital record or QR Code. They hope it will put more focus on the vaccines themselves and assure people a passport will not be forced on them.

"That discussion has now reached a point where there's more harm than good that comes from it. In the sense that the discussion continues to be one of invasion of privacy and abuse of government power," said Board Chairman Andrew Do.

"If some point in time in the future, we want to take this off of pause and address it, it's important to educate the public. And again it would still be about personal choice, individual freedom, and something that is voluntary," said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett.

"We're afraid that going forward with the QR code ends up maybe dis-incentivizing people to get the vaccines. We're trying to give no reason for anybody who doesn't have a medical reason, religious objection, etc., to not get the vaccine," said Supervisor Don Wagner.

Foley provided a statement on Tuesday's board meeting, writing in part:

"The provision of a voluntary digital vaccination record was an option of the contract between the County and CuraPatient. The voluntary digital record provision, would have provided a convenient option for individuals, should they need to show proof of vaccination for access to businesses and entertainment venues.

As I have previously stated, this was intended as a courtesy and not a mandate. There is no vote to mandate vaccine passports. Anyone suggesting otherwise is directly harming the County's public health and vaccination outreach efforts. This misinformation campaign is led by the same people who deny Covid-19 and have opposed vaccines and masks altogether."