South Dakota joined other GOP-led states in banning vaccine passports.

Gov. Kristi Noem announced on Wednesday she signed an executive order to issue the ban in the state, saying her administration "trusted [South Dakotans] to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones."

"We’ve resisted government mandates, and SD is stronger for it," the Republican tweeted. "I encourage all South Dakotans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but we are not going to mandate any such activity. And we are not going to restrict freedom with un-American policies like vaccine passports."

Noem's announcement means that South Dakota will join several other Republican-led states that have banned vaccine passports in recent weeks. Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order on Monday banning state and locally enforced vaccine passports in Arizona, Gov. Ron DeSantis prohibited both public and private Florida entities from using immunization documentation to render services, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation on April 6 forbidding government agencies from mandating vaccine information.


Other states appear poised to join this list. Last Wednesday, the Tennessee Senate passed a bill that would ban government-issued “vaccine passports” in the state, and Gov. Bill Lee has signaled that he's likely to sign the measure, tweeting his opposition to vaccine passports earlier this month.

The White House has not expressed an interest in taking the reins on a potential nationalized vaccine passport program, though those in President Joe Biden's orbit have left the process up to the private sector.

"A determination or development of vaccine passports, or whatever you want to call it, will be driven by the private sector," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in late March. "Ours will more be focused on guidelines that can be used as a basis."

Noem has attracted criticism from both the Left and the Right for another executive order she signed in recent weeks. Widely considered a top contender for the GOP's 2024 presidential nomination, Noem drew scrutiny from fellow Republicans when she refused to sign legislation that would ban transgender athletes from participating in sports teams that match their gender identities rather than their biological sexes, instead issuing two executive orders on the subject.

"Only girls should play girls’ sports,” Noem said in a statement. “Given the legislature’s failure to accept my proposed revisions to HB 1217, I am immediately signing two executive orders to address this issue: one to protect fairness in K-12 athletics, and another to do so in college athletics.”

Noem's veto resulted in criticism from liberals, with American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota advocacy manager Jett Jonelis arguing Noem's executive orders amounted to "attacks on trans women and girls," as well as members of her own party, who said she failed to protect biological women.

“If Noem thinks this gambit will save her political career, she is sadly mistaken. Conservative voters will not forget that when given the choice between standing up for the principles of fairness and equality for girl athletes or caving to the left, she chose the latter. This failure in leadership will define her moving forward," Terry Schilling, president of the conservative American Principles Project, said in a statement.


South Dakota has had 121,360 cases of COVID-19, and 643,744 doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered in the state, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker.