Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a new executive order on Wednesday blocking any governmental entity in the state from mandating COVID-19 vaccines, whether or not they are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The governor said he was also adding the issue to the agenda for the ongoing second special session of the Texas Legislature because "vaccine requirements and exemptions have historically been determined by the legislature" and to "avoid a patchwork of vaccine mandates across Texas."
The governor previously issued an executive order stating that no governmental entity could force someone to get the vaccine while it was under an emergency use authorization from the FDA.
The Pfizer version of the COVID-19 vaccine gained full approval of the FDA earlier this week for those ages 16 and up, paving the way for future mandates at county-run hospitals and other places that receive state funding.
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Abbott issued the directive Wednesday in GA-39, the latest in a series of executive orders coming from the governor's office, which says simply, "no governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine."
A previous order from the governor used similar language but stipulated that the prohibition on vaccine mandates was for vaccines approved for use under an emergency use authorization, a reason many people gave for being hesitant to get vaccinated. The governor's latest order simply removed the EUA part of the language, blocking mandates even if the vaccine is fully approved by the FDA.
The governor also suspended part of the health code as part of his order, blocking health officials from using their supervisory authority to implement 12 communicable disease control measures, one of which was immunization.
Abbott’s order does not impact private businesses, meaning workers could be subject to vaccine requirements handed down by their employer.
Abbott, who is vaccinated and was recently infected with COVID-19, has said vaccines are the best tool available for stopping the pandemic and has urged Texans to utilize "personal responsibility" for stopping the spread of the disease.