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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issues executive order banning vaccine mandates by private entities

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pictured at the Texas State Capitol on May 18, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (Lynda M. Gonzalez/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued an executive order prohibiting any entity in Texas from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for employees or consumers, an expansion of a prior order limited to government entities.

Abbott also asked lawmakers to tackle the issue during the current special legislative session, ensuring that “no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine.”

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

Abbott has urged Texans to get vaccinated throughout the pandemic, but banned school districts, cities, counties and government agencies from requiring the shots. The Legislature passed a law earlier this year prohibiting so-called “vaccine passports,” meaning private businesses cannot require patrons to wear masks, but until Monday companies were allowed to mandate vaccines among employees.

Abbott’s Monday order seems to be partly inspired by President Joe Biden, who in September said all private companies with more than 100 workers must require employees to be vaccinated or conduct weekly tests for the virus.

“In yet another instance of federal government overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’s continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster,” Abbott’s order reads.

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