After an executive order banning mask mandates by government entities in May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Monday to prohibit COVID-19 vaccine mandates by any entity in the Lone Star State.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said in a press release.
I issued an Executive Order prohibiting vaccine mandates by ANY entity in Texas.
I also added the issue to the Special Session agenda.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced. pic.twitter.com/8hHHLyebCk
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 11, 2021
Vaccine mandates threaten the livelihoods of millions of Americans — and countless Texans could lose their jobs simply “because they object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination for reasons of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons.”
“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,” Abbott wrote.
In Houston, more than 150 health care workers were fired or resigned in June after the hospital system Houston Methodist required COVID-19 shots for its employees. Houston Methodist was one of the first health systems in the country to force such an ultimatum on its workers. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by former nurse Jennifer Bridges in response to the policy.
Thousands of healthcare workers in New York saw their jobs put on the chopping block after choosing not to receive the shot, causing staffing shortages throughout state hospitals. Almost 20 percent of the Massachusetts police force are unvaccinated, and face termination if they do not receive the COVID-19 injection by Oct. 17.
Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines canceled nearly 1,800 flights less than a week after forcing the COVID-19 vaccine on its employees. The company claimed that weather-related challenges left thousands of Americans stranded after speculations about employee “sickouts” crowded social media. The Dallas-based airline said it would disobey Abbott’s order.
“According to the president’s executive order, federal action supersedes any state mandate or law, and we would be expected to comply with the president’s order to remain compliant as a federal contractor,” the company told Bloomberg Tuesday.
The Biden administration, Abbott wrote in his order, is “bullying” private entities into mandating vaccines, which could cause staffing shortages across the state and worsen the worker shortage that’s already been exacerbated by the Biden administration’s economic policies. Biden announced his mandate last month, requiring companies with 100 or more employees to force shots upon employees.
Although Abbott received the vaccine himself, the governor is staunchly anti-mandate, and barred vaccine mandates by state and local governments in August.
“Vaccine requirements and exemptions have historically been determined by the Legislature, and their involvement is particularly important to avoid a patchwork of vaccine mandates across Texas,” Abbott said in August.
Abbott also added the issue to the agenda for the state legislature’s ongoing special session, encouraging lawmakers to pass a law reflecting the executive order.