Abbott bans vaccine mandates from any 'entity in Texas'

Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottMcConaughey says he won't seek political office 'at this moment' Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills One-quarter in Texas unwilling, unlikely to get vaccinated: poll MORE (R) signed an executive order on Monday that bans coronavirus vaccine mandates from being implemented by any “entity in Texas,” the latest move in the state’s crusade against the requirements amid the ongoing pandemic.

Abbott's order says that groups and businesses in Texas are not permitted to require proof of vaccination from individuals who object to the shots for “any reason of personal conscience.”

It comes in response to President BidenJoe BidenBiden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant Restless progressives eye 2024 Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony MORE's mandate announced last month that all businesses with 100 or more employees require their workforces get vaccinated or regularly tested.

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“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,” the executive order reads.

It further states that violators of the order should be subject to the maximum fine permitted under a section of the Texas Government Code.

Abbott also sent a message to the chief clerk of the state House and the secretary of the Senate to add the ban on vaccine mandates to the agenda of a third special legislative session.

He said the executive order will be revoked once a similar bill is passed.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” the governor said in a statement.

The new ban goes further than an August executive order from Abbott that prohibited any government entity from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of its approval status.

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That order came days after the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Before that, Abbott had banned vaccine requirements for shots that were being administered under emergency use authorization.

The latest executive order banning vaccine requirements comes as Abbott faces a reelection battle next year, with one of his GOP challengers being Allen West, a former House member and the ex-chairman of the Texas Republican Party.

West, who is currently hospitalized with COVID-19, said his bout with the virus has made him “more dedicated to fighting against vaccine mandates.”

“I can attest that, after this experience, I am even more dedicated to fighting against vaccine mandates. Instead of enriching the pockets of Big Pharma and corrupt bureaucrats and politicians, we should be advocating the monoclonal antibody infusion therapy,” Allen said on Twitter from the hospital Sunday morning.

West and his wife, who also tested positive for the virus, were given monoclonal antibody infusion therapy at a Dallas hospital on Saturday.

State Sen. Don Huffines is also seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination, while others said to be considering bids include former Texas Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke seizes on Texas power grid in bid against Abbott McConaughey on Texas run: 'I will let you know shortly' O'Rourke raises M in first 24 hours of Texas governor campaign MORE (D) and actor Matthew McConaughey.

Abbott tested positive for a COVID-19 breakthrough case in August.