“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said in a press release Monday.
Abbott’s executive order prohibits “any entity” in the state from compelling an individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine “who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience.”
The order applies to both employees and consumers who refuse to receive the vaccine due to “religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”
The order will also “supersede any conflicting order” that has already been made by local jurisdictions, authorizing the “maximum fine” allowed under Texas law for any entity that fails to comply with the order.
Abbott also issued a message to the state’s Senate and House of Representatives formally requesting the legislature to consider drafting legislation codifying a similar order into law.
The governor’s move may have come in response to President Biden’s September executive order that will require employers with more than 100 workers to require the vaccine or submit to weekly testing for the virus.
“In yet another instance of federal government overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’s continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster,” Abbott said of that order at the time.
Currently, 52% of Texas residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.