2021-10-12 16:42:53 Gov. Greg Abbott Bars Vaccine Mandates in Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott Bars Vaccine Mandates in Texas

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a broad executive order prohibiting virtually all vaccine mandates in the state.

Mr. Abbott, a Republican, has been one of the most outspoken political figures in the United States in opposition to vaccine mandates. His most recent executive order includes private employers, who had previously been exempt from previous edicts opposing the mandates.

“No entity in Texas may compel the 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, religious belief, or medical reasons, including prior recovery from Covid-19,” the order states. “I hereby suspend all relevant statutes in order to enforce this prohibition.”

The order recognizes that “vaccines are strongly encouraged for those who are eligible to receive them, but must always be voluntary for Texans.”

Shortly after that order was signed, Facebook, which employs over 2,000 people in the state, issued a statement saying that it was reviewing the order and that “our company vaccine policy currently remains unchanged.”

Professor Srividhya Ragavan, who teaches global public health at Texas A&M University School of Law, predicts that the order, like Mr. Abbott’s ban on mask mandates, will be challenged in court.

Courts in the United States have a long history of upholding vaccine mandates, according to Professor Ragavan, in part because those who oppose such mandates are not the only people whose rights are considered by the courts.

“I may choose not to receive cancer treatment,” Ms. Ragavan explained, “but in the case of an infectious disease, your freedom has the potential to affect someone else.”

According to Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, the order may be difficult to enforce due to its broad scope and timing. Companies with operations in multiple states will have to consider whether it applies to them simply because they have some operations in Texas, he said.

According to Mr. Blackman, some businesses may face “severe financial risk” if mandates are already in place.

The order exacerbates an already polarizing debate. On one side is President Biden, who has mandated vaccinations for health care workers, federal contractors, and the vast majority of federal employees, as well as ordered all private employers with 100 or more employees to require their employees to be vaccinated or undergo frequent testing.

Mr. Biden’s actions reflected growing dissatisfaction with the millions of Americans who are eligible for vaccinations but have not received them. In announcing them, he emphasized the importance of “protecting vaccinated workers from the unvaccinated.”

According to a New York Times database, 66 percent of people aged 12 and older in the United States were fully vaccinated as of Friday, a figure lower than that of dozens of other countries.

The Republican governors of Texas, Florida, and other states, on the other hand, are vehemently opposed to any measures requiring vaccines or masks, claiming that they violate personal liberties. Their mandate bans have been going through the courts for months.

Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas was one of the first large health care facilities in the country to impose a vaccine mandate in June, when more than 150 employees were fired or resigned.

Prior to Monday’s order, Facebook and Google, both of which have significant campuses in Texas, stated that employees would be required to show proof of vaccination in order to return to their offices.

American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, announced on Friday that more than 100,000 of its employees in the United States must be vaccinated.

J. David Goodman contributed to this report.

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Gov. Greg Abbott Bars Vaccine Mandates in Texas