CVS – Texas Bans Some Vaccine Mandates. It Isn’t the Only State to Do That.
The rapid adoption of Covid-19 vaccine mandates—which took off after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued full approval to Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine—is facing a new challenge in Texas, where the governor on Wednesday banned state and local governments from mandating Covid-19 vaccination.
Texas’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, signed an executive order issuing the ban on Wednesday. The order also prevents private companies that do business with the state from requiring consumers to provide proof of vaccination to enter their premises.
Texas joins a handful of other states which already have versions of a ban on Covid-19 vaccine mandates on the books. While the Texas mandate ban only applies to public employers, Montana’s ban also keeps private employers from instituting vaccine mandates.
Abbott’s new ban echoes a similar executive order he issued earlier this year banning local officials from instituting mask mandates. That order has met resistance from some school districts and local governments. On Wednesday, a state judge issued an injunction that will keep Abbott from enforcing the mask mandate ban, pending appeal.
Legal challenges to vaccine mandates have so far had little success in the courts. In mid-August, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined to intervene in a case that sought to overturn a vaccine mandate imposed by Indiana University.
Texas is reporting 17,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, close to the highest levels of new daily cases the state has seen during the entire pandemic. The average number of Covid-19 patients hospitalized is 13,400, also nearing a state record. There is a hospital bed shortage in parts of the state, according to local media reports, and the Associated Press reported Wednesday that Texas hospital systems are shuttering their off-site emergency rooms and sending staff to help care for hospitalized Covid-19 patients.
“This surge has come faster and with more force, and at a time when we were already depleted,” a Texas Hospital Association spokesperson told the AP.
Abbott himself tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this month.
In his executive order on Wednesday, Abbott wrote that Covid-19 vaccines are “strongly encouraged.” He also issued a request to the legislature to consider passing a law on vaccine mandates. In a statement, Abbott said, “Vaccine requirements and exemptions have historically been determined by the legislature, and their involvement is particularly important to avoid a patchwork of vaccine mandates across Texas.”
In the days since the FDA approved
Covid-19 vaccine, vaccine mandates have spread across the country, including in Texas. San Antonio’s local school district has mandated vaccines for employees, according to local TV news station KXAN. Texas Health resources, a large nonprofit health system, has also mandated vaccines for its workers.
Nationally, major employers including the Pentagon and
(CVS) have announced their own vaccine mandates in recent days. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 51.7% of the U.S. population is now fully vaccinated. The U.S. is now averaging 892,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses administered a day, up from 662,000 at the beginning of August.
Write to Josh Nathan-Kazis at [email protected]