Gov. Abbott issued an executive order Monday that restricts any entity in Texas from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.
The executive order will displace any conflicting orders issued by local officials, employers, and individuals, according to Executive Order No. GA-40. The Governor also added this issue as an item to the Third Special Session agenda in a message to the Chief Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate.
"The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced," said Governor Abbott.
The order states no entities in the state are allowed to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, "by any individual, including an employee or 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."
State Senator José Menéndez issued a statement following the governor's order, which effectively bans private companies from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations.
"It is reckless for Governor Abbott to interfere with the liberty of business owners and school leaders to run their organizations in the way they feel is the safest and in the best interest of their associates and the people they serve," said Menéndez on Monday. "As someone who had a tough fight with COVID-19, I don't want anyone else to suffer or die because of people not being vaccinated. Too many have already suffered and died needlessly. The way to get through this pandemic is through evidence-based methods, such as vaccinations."