Texas Bans COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

Author: David B. Weisenfeld

October 12, 2021

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued a broad executive order banning all state entities, including private employers, from mandating that individuals receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

"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," Gov. Abbott wrote. He added that his order will supersede any conflicting order issued by local officials in response to the COVID-19 disaster.

In a statement, Gov. Abbott said, "The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced." Nonetheless, a court challenge is likely.

In September, President Biden announced a new national strategy to combat the coronavirus that will rely on widespread vaccine mandates for many employers. Under his plan, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their workplace is fully vaccinated, with weekly negative COVID-19 tests required for any unvaccinated employees.

Courts have generally upheld vaccine mandates. For instance, a federal judge in Kentucky recently let stand a health care employer's mandatory vaccination policy. A Pennsylvania state court also upheld a school's refusal to grant an exemption to its vaccine mandate.