Texas Governor expands prohibition on vaccine mandates, urges similar legislative action in new executive order
Texas Legislature COVID-19
Date Posted: 8/25/2021 | Author: Jennifer Mitchell
Days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a new executive order expanding his statewide prohibition on vaccine mandates at the local level. Executive Order No. GA-39, released Wednesday, August 25, 2021, supersedes a portion of Abbott’s prior Executive Order No. GA-38, which referred only to COVID-19 vaccines that had been granted emergency use authorization – not full approval – by the federal government.
The new order provides that state agencies and political subdivisions cannot require an individual to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for “receiving any service or entering any place.” The order further prohibits any public or private entity that receives public funds from requiring a consumer to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for entry or receiving services. An exception is carved out in the order for nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Gov. Abbott also states in the order that he is “adding this issue to the agenda for the Second Called Session of the legislature that is currently convened so that the legislature has the opportunity to consider this issue through legislation.”
It is unclear how the new order will affect school districts that have been considering mandating their employees to become vaccinated against COVID-19. San Antonio ISD recently announced such a policy, and other school districts have considered similar requirements. A number of school districts have openly defied Gov. Abbott’s prior executive order prohibiting local mask mandates, prompting the Texas Education Agency to announce last week that it would not enforce those provisions of Executive Order No. GA-38 while the matter was being hashed out in various lawsuits around the state.
Gov. Abbott did state in his latest executive order, “COVID-19 vaccines are strongly encouraged for those eligible to receive one, but have always been voluntary for Texans.” In a recent anecdotal survey of ATPE members, approximately 80% of the respondents said they are or plan to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Forty-one percent of the survey respondents said educators should be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, while 45% disagreed, and 14% were undecided.
For additional information about state and local requirements pertaining to COVID-19 in schools, visit ATPE’s COVID-19 FAQ and Resources page here.
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