Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is nothing if not persistent in his efforts to make it easier for his constituents to contract and perhaps die from COVID-19. The Republican, who contracted the coronavirus after recently attending a mask-less indoor event, on Wednesday issued an executive order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates regardless of a vaccine’s approval status with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Previously Abbott had banned the mandating of vaccines that only had received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA. His latest order, which mostly deals with governmental entities, comes just a few days after Pfizer’s vaccine received full federal government approval. It states, “no governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” although it provides exceptions for nursing homes, state-supported living centers and other similar facilities.
A court challenge to the order almost is a foregone conclusion. Once the FDA had issued EUAs for the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots the San Antonio Independent School District announced mandatory employee vaccinations. That prompted a lawsuit from the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton.
Abbott issued his anti-vax order the day after two court rulings slapped down his order preventing Texas governmental entities from requiring face masks. The first ruling came in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio. Masks can now be required in public schools and other public buildings there. Masks will also be required for county and city employees, according to Andy Segovia, the city attorney for San Antonio. The chief executive of Bexar County, Judge Nelson W. Wolff, said that the ruling was important because many students who are too young to be vaccinated would be forced back to school with no protection against the coronavirus.
The second ruling was delivered by a district judge in Dallas County who said the ban prevented officials from protecting residents during an emergency. “Dallas County citizens will be irreparably harmed” if local leaders cannot require face coverings to stop the transmission of the virus, the judge, Tonya Parker, wrote.