Healthcare

Fauci calls Abbott's ban on vaccine mandates 'unfortunate'

White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci called Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order banning vaccine mandates "unfortunate" in a Sunday interview, saying mandates would help end the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

Fauci avoided Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace's question asking his opinion of Abbott. But he said the ban on mandates issued by Abbot from a public health standpoint "is really unfortunate because we know how effective vaccines are in preventing illness not only for the individual but for diminishing the dynamics of the infection in society. The data are very very clear."

Abbott in announcing his mandate said it would ensure that people in Texas had the freedom to go anywhere and that the could not be blocked by a vaccine mandate. It contradicts an order that President Biden has issued that businesses with at least 100 employees mandate that their employees be vaccinated or be tested ever week. A number of businesses based in Texas also have vaccine mandates for employees. 

Fauci said such steps are needed in a crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

"Unfortunately, I can understand, perhaps, what the governor is trying to do, but I think when you're in a public health crisis, sometimes unusual situations require unusual actions and in this case, it's things like mandating be they masks or vaccinations, that are very important," Fauci said on Fox News Sunday.

"We're not living in a vacuum as individuals. We're living in a society," he added, saying that if people get vaccinated, they are less likely to infect others.

He also noted the data that shows people who get vaccinated are much less likely to die or be hospitalized if they contract COVID-19.

Fauci's comments follow an announcement last week that Abbott would prohibit vaccine mandates for any "entity in Texas."

"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," according to Abbott's executive order.

Anyone in violation of the governor's order could be subject to a fine.

Some big businesses including American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which are both based in Texas, have said they would defy the executive order and continue to impose vaccine mandates or require proof of vaccination. 

According to the Texas Department of Health, Texas had well over 4,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 200 newly reported fatalities on Saturday. The New York Times reported that the state's daily case average was the highest in the country as of Sunday.

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