Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed an executive order Monday that prohibits any “entity in Texas” from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Abbott’s order states that businesses in the state cannot require a proof of vaccination from those employees or consumers who object to the shots for “any reason of personal conscience.”
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said in a statement. This comes after President Joe Biden announced last month that all employers with at least 100 employees must mandate that their workers be vaccinated or undergo regular coronavirus testing. Violators of the new order will face the maximum fine allowed under a section of the Texas Government Code.
Abbott also sent a message to chief clerk of the state House and the secretary of the Senate, directing them to add the ban on vaccine mandates to the agenda of a third special legislative session. The executive order will be revoked once a similar piece of legislation is passed.
A previous executive order from August prohibited any government entity from mandating a COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of its approval status, following the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.
Prior to the August order, Abbott had banned vaccine requirements for shots being administered under emergency use authorization.
Monday’s executive order comes after one of Abbott’s primary opponents for his 2022 reelection bid, former U.S. Rep. Allen West, expressed in a tweet Sunday that his current battle with the virus has made him “even more dedicated to fighting against vaccine mandates.”