Texas governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order prohibiting “any entity,” including employers, from issuing mandates if “any individual” objects to the vaccine for “any reason of personal conscience.” This reason can be religious or medical, according to a Monday press release from the governor’s office. Abbott also announced his administration had added the issue to the Texas legislature’s upcoming special session agenda, set for Sept. 20. His executive order will be withdrawn “upon the passage of such legislation,” according to the release.
The Monday order is a step further than Abbott’s August vaccine mandate ban, which only extended to state government agencies or entities that received public funds. Abbott previously issued orders prohibiting mask mandates and vaccine passport requirements. “The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus,” the governor said in his office's statement, “but should remain voluntary and never forced.”