Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order Monday banning all COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the state by any entity.
“No entity in Texas may compel the acceptance of COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including employees or consumers, who refuses such vaccination for reasons of personal conscience, religious belief, or medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19,” call the command.
Abbott is one of several Republican governors in the US who have clashed with President Joe Biden’s initiatives to curb the pandemic for nearly two years, including banning local governments and school districts from making masks mandatory.
President Biden issued an order last month directing all employers with 100 or more employees to require their employees to be fully vaccinated or face a COVID test every week, as well as issuing mandatory vaccination orders for all healthcare workers, federal employees and federal contractors.
Two major Texas-based companies, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have announced mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for their employees in recent days. US-based tech giants Facebook and Google, both of which have major offices in Texas, have also imposed mandatory vaccination orders for their employees.
Abbott, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this year, said in his order that “the vaccine is highly recommended for those who qualify to receive it, but it must always be voluntary for Texans.” He said he would push the state parliament to make his order into law in the next special session.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, “we know that the mandate is effective” in an interview Monday with the CNN news network. Fauci said while health officials were reluctant to issue such directives, he acknowledged that “sometimes a mandate can really help on such a sensitive issue, actually getting more people vaccinated.” [uh/ab]