Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order late Monday banning any entity in the state, including private businesses, from requiring customers or employees to get vaccinated against covid-19. Curiously, the order does not apply to the numerous other vaccinations that are required to participate in society, like the seven vaccines mandatory for kids to attend school in Texas.
President Joe Biden recently announced the covid-19 vaccine will soon be required for all employees at companies with at least 100 people—an order that will be enforced through existing workplace safety measures overseen by OSHA. But it’s not clear how well the mandate will be enforced, especially if it conflicts with state orders, like the new one in Texas.
Only 51.9% of Texans are vaccinated against covid-19, well below the national figure of 56.8%. And cases are still disturbingly high, with a seven-day average of new cases at roughly 7,200. Roughly 241 people in Texas are dying from covid-19 each day.
Gov. Abbott, a Republican, released a statement insisting the covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective, even going so far as to say that they’re the best defense against the virus. But the end of his statement completely undermines every positive thing he said.
“The covid-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Gov. Abbott said.
Did you catch that? While acknowledging that vaccination is safe and tacitly admitting vaccines are the only thing that can ultimately end the pandemic, Abbott gives a wink and a nod to his anti-vaccine base to pledge his loyalty. Coincidentally, it happens to be loyalty to death and disease.
The full text of the executive order:
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. I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition.
Vaccine mandates are wildly popular with the vast majority of American workers, who would rather not work alongside selfish assholes who refuse to get vaccinated against covid-19. In fact, United Airlines saw a huge uptick in job applicants after it started mandating the covid-19 vaccine for all workers. The company has seen over 20,000 apply to be flight attendants for about 2,000 positions, rates well above normal, according to the New York Times.
Will Gov. Abbott’s executive order stand up against a federal order from Biden mandating vaccines? We’ll learn soon enough. But even before the Texas order was signed Monday night, plenty of Republicans were already promising to sue the feds over President Biden’s mandates.
If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, there’s still time. The various covid-19 vaccines approved by the FDA are safe, effective, and they’re free. Go get the shot, provided you’re not one of the miniscule number of people who need a medical exemption because you have a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine. It’s the only thing that will get us out of this pandemic and on with our lives.