Gov. Greg Abbott issued a new executive order Monday that bans COVID-19 vaccine mandates and called on the Legislature to pass a similar law before the end of the third special legislative session of this year.
“No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a Covid-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from Covid-19,” the order states. “I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition.”
The order notes that “vaccines are strongly encouraged for those eligible to receive one,” but emphasized that they “must always be voluntary for Texans.”
Abbott has long been a vocal opponent of vaccine mandates, but had previously allowed private employers to mandate vaccines for workers. He has, however, come under increasing pressure from the right to go further in prohibiting vaccine requirements, including from one of his primary challengers, Don Huffines.
The decision comes after President Biden announced a sweeping vaccine measure last month that requires all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Mr. Biden also announced that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration would develop a rule mandating that all employers with 100 or more employees either require vaccinations or make unvaccinated workers show a negative test once per week. It is not yet clear when the OSHA rule will be implemented. In his order, Abbott described the decision as “yet another instance of federal government overreach,” and accused the Biden Administration of “bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’s continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster.”