Now that Pfizer’s vaccine has full FDA approval, SAISD mandate is legal in Texas

District’s vaccine mandate on staff will be in effect Oct. 15

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, left, is suing SAISD and Superintendent Pedro Martinez, right, over the district's vaccine mandate.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, left, is suing SAISD and Superintendent Pedro Martinez, right, over the district's vaccine mandate. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will no longer pursue a lawsuit against San Antonio ISD over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate after Pfizer received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday.

Paxton sued the district on Thursday, taking issue with SAISD’s vaccine mandate announced earlier this month. The district, which also issued its own mask mandate for staff and students, is believed to be the first in the state to require vaccinations.

The attorney general argued that the district violated Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order, that prohibited governmental entities from mandating vaccinations that only had emergency use authorization.

After the lawsuit was filed, SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez sent a letter to staff members clarifying that the mandate was dependent on full FDA approval. And with the FDA signing off on the Pfizer vaccine on Monday, the mandate is now legal.

Even so, Paxton chalked up the clarification as a victory for his office.

“State law could not be clearer: ‘No governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.’ But San Antonio ISD tried to play by its own set of rules. Thankfully we stopped them,” Paxton said in a news release.

District officials confirmed on Monday that the Oct. 15 deadline of their vaccine mandate will stay in effect.

In a statement, Martinez urged staff and community members alike to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We know there are residents across San Antonio who have been reluctant to get their shots because it was only authorized for emergency use and who have waited for full approval before getting vaccinated,” Martinez said. “That moment has come and our message today is simple: Please protect yourself, your community, and children across our city by getting vaccinated.”

The FDA’s approval will likely set off a wave of vaccine mandates around the country. The Pentagon announced that it will require all service members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.


About the Author:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.