Gov. Greg Abbott Bars Vaccine Mandates in Texas


Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas issued a broad executive order on Monday that bars virtually any coronavirus vaccine mandate in the state.

Mr. Abbott, a Republican, has been among the most vocal political leaders in the United States opposing vaccine mandates. His latest executive order includes private employers, which had been exempt from previous edicts against the mandates.

“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,” the order states. “I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition.”

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

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

Professor Srividhya Ragavan, who teaches global public health at Texas A&M University School of Law, said the order will probably be litigated in court, as Mr. Abbott’s ban on mask mandates has been.

Courts in the United States have a long history of upholding vaccine mandates, Professor Ragavan said, in part, because people who oppose such mandates are not the only individuals whose rights the courts take into account.

“I may choose not to get treatment for cancer,” Ms. Ragavan said, “but when it’s a case of an infectious disease, your freedom has the ability to affect someone else.”

The order may be hard to enforce because of its broad scope and timing, said Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston. Companies that operate in multiple states will have to wrestle with whether it applies to them merely by having some operations in Texas, he said.



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