Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bans any COVID-19 vaccine mandates — including for private employers
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued another executive order cracking down on COVID-19 vaccine mandates — this time banning any entity in Texas, including private businesses, from requiring vaccinations for employees or customers.
Abbott also called on the Legislature to pass a law with the same effect. The Legislature is in its third special legislative session, which ends Oct. 19.
"The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced," he said in a tweet announcing his latest order.
COVID-19 vaccine requirements by government agencies, cities, counties and school districts were already banned by a previous executive order — which is currently being fought in court by the San Antonio Independent School District. The Legislature also already passed into law a ban on so-called vaccine passports — which would allow businesses to require proof of vaccination from customers. However, Texas had up to this point allowed private businesses to require vaccines of their own employees.
The latest move appears to be at least partly motivated by President Joe Biden's actions in September that require all employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccines for workers or test weekly for the virus. Biden also required all federal government workers and contractors to get vaccinated, leading nearly all the major airlines — including American Airlines and Southwest Airlines headquartered in Texas — to announce they'd abide by the mandate.
"In yet another instance of federal government overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas's continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster," Abbott said in his order.
About 52% of Texans are fully vaccinated. Abbott was vaccinated on TV and has previously advocated for people to get the shot. But in recent months — as the delta variant caused another upswing in cases and hospitalizations — he has concentrated his political capital toward fighting vaccine and mask mandates from local school districts and governments.
Texas, however, allows other kinds of vaccine mandates in public schools and universities.
Texas public schools currently require K-12 students to get vaccinated for tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella, hepatitis B, chickenpox, meningitis and hepatitis A. College students are required to receive a meningitis vaccination, too. Health care and veterinary students are required to get additional vaccines for rabies, tetanus-diphtheria and hepatitis B.
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