Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order and more extensive ban on Covid-19 vaccine mandates Wednesday, days after his prior ban was rendered obsolete by the full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration, as Abbot continues his quest to prevent mandates in his state even as case numbers climb.
Abbott’s new order bans government agencies from implementing mandates for all Covid-19 vaccines, after his prior order — which relied on the FDA’s emergency use authorization to justify the ban — no longer worked with full approval of the Pfizer vaccine Monday.
The order also bars any entity receiving public funds from requiring people to show proof they have gotten vaccinated against coronavirus— also known as a vaccine passport.
The governor also added an agenda piece to the Special Session to decide whether state or local government entities can mandate Covid-19 vaccines and if so, what exemptions would apply.
Texas is one of a handful of states, including Montana, Idaho, Florida and Utah, that have banned vaccine passports, which would require people to show they are vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to enter a business, receive a service or to gain employment.
Montana is currently the only state that bans private employers from mandating Covid-19 vaccines.
“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 statement.
Abbott’s order in July prohibited local governments and public schools from implementing a Covid-19 vaccine mandate. However, the San Antonio Independent School District issued a requirement for all employees to get vaccinated last week, which prompted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to file a lawsuit citing Abbott’s executive order prohibiting public schools from implementing a Covid-19 vaccine mandate. That changed when the FDA gave full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. After the announcement, the San Antonio Independent School District moved forward with plans to vaccinate staff, setting a deadline of October 15 for Covid-19 vaccinations, according to KXAN. Meanwhile, hospitalizations in Texas still continue to rise, with reported ICU capacity in Texas hospitals at 92.7% last week. Some Dallas-area hospitals also warned that they may have to consider vaccination status when taking in patients.
Harris County in Texas, saw a 529% increase in people getting their first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday after a vaccine incentive was announced, according to Houston Public Media. The county said it would pay people $100 to get their first shot and $50 to get their second shot. About 2,700 people showed up to get their first vaccination, compared to an average of 431 before the incentive was announced.
Arizona Becomes Sixth State To Ban Coronavirus Vaccine Passports — See The Full List Here (Forbes)
What Pfizer vaccine’s FDA approval means for Texas schools, cities (Houston Chronicle)