Texas governor bans local governments from issuing COVID-19 vaccine mandate despite FDA approval

Abbott also adds vaccine mandate ban on special session agenda

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott attends a security briefing at the Weslaco Department of Public Safety DPS Headquarters on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 in Weslaco, Texas. Gov. Abbott says that he has tested negative for COVID-19, four days after testing positive. He said in a video clip he tweeted on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021 that he's been told his infection was brief and mild because he was vaccinated. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott attends a security briefing at the Weslaco Department of Public Safety DPS Headquarters on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 in Weslaco, Texas. Gov. Abbott says that he has tested negative for COVID-19, four days after testing positive. He said in a video clip he tweeted on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021 that he's been told his infection was brief and mild because he was vaccinated. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via AP, Pool) (The Washington Post)

Governmental entities in Texas can no longer mandate any coronavirus vaccination despite Pfizer receiving full FDA authorization earlier this week, according to a new executive order signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday.

The new executive order goes further than the previous one did, which banned coronavirus vaccine mandates that were only authorized under emergency use. The order also applies to businesses that partner with the state but does not extend to private businesses, nursing homes, state-supported living centers and long-term care facilities.

“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 a news release.

Abbott suspended multiple sections of the state health code to enforce his mandate.

The executive order will likely upend San Antonio ISD’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, issued earlier this month. In a statement, district officials said they will move forward with their mandate regardless. The district was the first in the state to require vaccinations.

Abbott also added the vaccine mandate issue in the special session, meaning the Texas Legislature can consider and pass legislation pertaining to COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

The directive may invite legal challenges like his previous executive order, which banned local governments from requiring masks in public schools. Bexar County successfully sought an injunction in court, preventing enforcement of that order and allowing the county to mandate masks in schools.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg criticized the order, in a statement sent to KSAT 12 News.

“Confusion is the enemy of emergency response, and the governor is excelling at it,” Nirenberg said. “Mask up, get vaccinated, protect yourself and those around you. It’s as simple as that.”

Read the executive order below:


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.