Gov. Greg Abbott is banning private employers in the state of Texas from requiring that their employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine or lose their jobs. The executive order came just days after conservatives, activists and Republican lawmakers held a news conference imploring him to do so.
It also came after his two Republican challengers, Lt. Col. Allen West and Don Huffines, called on him to address the issue, and after an untold number of Texans have already been fired for refusing to get the jabs, including Houston Methodist Hospital employees who were among the first in the nation to lose their jobs four months ago.
Abbott didn’t act in June when Houston Methodist was the first hospital system in the nation to announce such a mandate.
The executive order Abbott signed Monday states that no entity in Texas can compel any employee or consumer to receive a COVID-19 vaccination who objects to receiving it due to a choice of personal conscience based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including having antibodies from having recovered from COVID-19.
Abbott also sent a message to the Chief Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate adding the issue as an item to the third special session agenda, with less than one week left in the session.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said.
Jennifer Bridges, a registered nurse who was fired in June from the Houston Methodist Hospital System for refusing to get the shots, spoke at the event in Austin.
She said the hospital’s mandate was “unjust and unconstitutional” and vaccine mandates were spreading to all walks of life.
“We need to protect these people and keep them all from going through the same thing that we did, from the turmoil, and the anxiety, and just losing your livelihood,” Bridges said.
Dawn Richardson, director of state advocacy for the National Vaccine Information Center, said of bills that had been introduced in the Texas Legislature that it was “highly disturbing that so many legislators have been responding to their constituents who are calling them saying that their jobs are threatened and yet these bills are not moving in this special session.”
Richardson specifically called on the governor to add vaccine mandates to the special session, saying, “The governor had no problem shutting down businesses over COVID that resulted in many businesses having to close their doors forever, so he should add this.
“We have to set some reasonable limits. It is unreasonable to force a person to take a vaccine that can possibly cause injury and death.”
Lawmakers who participated in the event included state Sen. Bob Hall and state Reps. Steve Toth, Briscoe Cain, Cody Vasut, Bryan Slaton, James White, Mayes Middleton, and Valoree Swanson. All have proposed legislation addressing vaccine mandates, but they have not moved in the Republican-controlled legislature.
“Unfortunately, we have too many elected officials who seem to have forgotten that the primary purpose of government is to protect individual liberty,” Hall said. “Many individuals across our state and nation are facing a devastating choice: whether to take a vaccine they do not want or leave their jobs, forfeiting their means to provide financially for themselves and their families.”
In August, Abbott’s office was asked about private companies issuing vaccine mandates as a condition of employment. His press office told the Texas Tribune, “Private businesses don’t need government running their business.”
Last month, Lt. Col. Allen West criticized the governor for not taking a stand in support of Texas National Guardsmen and women being required to get the shots.
In a press release, West said, “It is highly disturbing that our Texas National Guard members are being ordered to take a COVID shot. Unless on active-duty orders, the Commander-in-Chief of the Texas National Guard is the Governor, not Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“It is an unlawful, unethical, and immoral order to mandate, not for deployment purposes, that service members of the Texas Military Department receive this inoculation, especially when it wasn’t mandated for 15,000 invading Haitian illegal immigrants,” he added, saying that as governor he “will defend our Texas Military forces from this onerous and intrusive violation of the sovereignty of Texas.”
Huffines accused Abbott of blocking bills filed in the legislature that would prohibit companies from imposing such mandates.
He said, “The role of any government is always to defend the God-given liberties of its citizens. Vaccine mandates are an attack on that liberty whether they are imposed by business or government. Greg Abbott must stop blocking the Texas Legislature from passing bills to ban vaccine mandates in Texas.”
“No Texan should lose their job because they don’t want to get a COVID vaccine,” he said.
West on Monday posted a series of tweets saying that after he tested positive for COVID-19 and was diagnosed with having COVID-related pneumonia, that he was even more dedicated to fighting against vaccine mandates.
After Abbott announced the executive order, both West and Huffines took credit for him doing so.
This article was originally posted on Abbott bans vaccine mandates amid growing pressure