Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued an executive order Monday prohibiting towns and counties from requiring vaccines for their employees, just days after Tucson decided to demand the shot.
The governor’s executive order takes effect immediately and states that any violation could result in a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to one month in prison or $500 in fines.
Ducey signed an Arizona Senate bill prohibiting local governments from enforcing vaccine requirements in late June, but the law will not take effect until Sept. 29. The order stated that it applies to any subsequent efforts made by local governments to require immunizations.
“We encourage all Arizonans to get the vaccine — it’s safe, effective and free,” Ducey said in a statement. “But getting it is a personal choice, and we will not allow discrimination based on vaccination status. Today’s order builds on our efforts to protect Arizonans from excessive mandates that hinder their freedom to choose what’s best for their health.”
The governor’s action comes as conflicts over vaccine mandates between state and municipal governments have heated up in recent weeks.
After a review by the city attorney general, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero protested to Ducey’s executive order, calling it “legally meaningless.”
She stated that Tucson’s vaccine requirement for city employees, which was authorized last week, will stay in effect, requiring them to present proof of at least one dosage by Aug. 24 or face suspension without pay or higher health insurance costs.
Earlier this year, Ducey declared a ban on residents using vaccine passports to receive services or enter certain facilities. Another executive order prohibited mandatory vaccinations for students.
The current Arizona governor’s order also requires all local governments to provide their employees with earned sick time to use if they contract COVID-19.