Governor issues another executive order prohibiting vaccine mandates, adds issue to special session agenda

Greg Abbott speaking at a microphone. Two people stand behind him.

On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order prohibiting any “entity” from requiring vaccinations for “any individual,” including “employees and consumers.” That directive would cover private employers and school districts—including banning required vaccinations for school employees and students. This order is a reversal of course for the governor as he had explicitly stated private businesses should be allowed to mandate vaccines as recently as August. Also on Monday, the governor added this item to the special session agenda,

Abbott’s directive bumps against President Joe Biden’s executive order from last month mandating all employers with 100 or more workers to require vaccinations or a weekly COVID-19 test. While vaccine requirements have not been widespread, a handful of school districts and employers have begun requiring them for their workers. Abbott’s directive is yet another ill-advised edict that runs counter to giving entities flexibility in maintaining safe workplaces.

On Thursday, the State Supreme Court put a halt to San Antonio ISD’s requirement for all its staff and eligible students to be vaccinated (with exemptions allowed for medical and religious reasons). The deadline for the district’s requirement would have been today. The court’s opinion did not weigh in on the legality of the district’s mandate, but instead clarified what was allowed until legal battles over Abbott’s orders are resolved.