Health Care

Texas Governor Bans COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas, Texas, May 4, 2018. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Wednesday banning government entities from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the state regardless of a vaccine’s approval status with the FDA.

“Vaccine requirements and exemptions have historically been determined by the legislature, and their involvement is particularly important to avoid a patchwork of vaccine mandates across Texas,” Abbott said.

Abbott is also adding the issue to the current Special Session agenda.

The order comes after the governor had previously banned public schools and local governments from enacting their own vaccine mandates, though the earlier order specified that the ban on vaccine requirements applies to COVID-19 vaccines that are under emergency authorization. 

In the wake of the FDA’s decision to grant full approval of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday, Abbott has issued a second order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates regardless of a vaccine’s approval status with the FDA.

The new order says “no governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.” It keeps in place exemptions for nursing homes and state-supported living centers.

After the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week, the San Antonio Independent School District said it would move forward with a vaccine requirement for district employees, according to the Texas Tribune.

The Republican governor’s new order comes one day after South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who is also a Republican, said draft proposals by GOP state lawmakers to ban vaccine mandates are “not conservative.”

It is not conservative to tell businesses what to do and how to treat their employees,” Noem said.

She accused the Republican legislators in her state who are pursuing such a measure of “chasing headlines and … trying to tell South Dakotans how to do business.” 

“They want to make government bigger and more powerful in your life. It’s like a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” she added.

Vaccine mandates have been given renewed consideration amid growing concern over the highly transmissive Delta variant.

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