Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order on Oct. 11 banning all forms of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, his office said in a press release.
The governor also sent a letter to the Texas Legislature, which would add a ban on COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the third special session agenda. If the legislature passes a bill banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates, then the executive order would expire.
The order, GA-40, said that no entity in Texas could make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory, including for consumers or employees. Under Section 418.173 of the Texas Government Code, a maximum fine of $1,000 will be imposed on any entity that violates the order.
Previous executive orders GA-35, GA-38, and GA-39 banned vaccine mandates for public entities such as schools or local governments. Those executive orders will remain in effect.
The governor said in his order that COVID-19 vaccination is strongly encouraged for those eligible but “must always be voluntary.” Abbott cited the Biden administration’s Sept. 9 COVID-19 mandates for employers with over 100 employees, calling the plans “federal overreach.”
“Countless Texans fear losing their livelihoods because they object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination for reasons of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19,” the order said.
The Texas Hospital Association, representing hospitals and health care systems based in the state, released a statement on Oct. 12 through its president Ted Shaw, who called efforts to limit vaccine mandates "attempts to hamstring hospitals."
This political action undercuts the central mission of hospitals, and patients and staff cannot be put at unnecessary risk," Shaw said. "As experts in healing and saving lives, hospitals must have the trust, respect and flexibility to mandate vaccines in their own facilities to protect the people of Texas.”