Updated:October 12, 2021

-Wall Street Journal



AUSTIN—Texas businesses and other private entities are now banned from requiring Covid-19 vaccinations for employees, Gov. Greg Abbott said in an executive order issued Monday.

Mr. Abbott, a Republican, said he was adding the issue to the agenda for the current special session of the Texas Legislature and would rescind his order if lawmakers passed a similar ban into law.

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

Until now, elected officials in Texas have banned governmental entities from requiring vaccines and have banned places of public accommodation from requiring vaccines of their customers, but have allowed private businesses to determine whether to require vaccinations of their staff.

Mr. Abbott’s order makes no exception for hospitals and healthcare facilities, many of which require vaccines for Covid-19, flu and other communicable diseases because patients may be immunocompromised or too young to be vaccinated. His order applies only to the Covid-19 shot, allowing entities to require vaccines for other diseases.

The ability of healthcare facilities to require Covid-19 vaccines was previously tested in court, when some employees of the Houston Methodist hospital system sued to prevent the hospital from requiring them to receive vaccines. A judge dismissed the lawsuit, writing that the hospital’s interest in providing safe medical care to its patients outweighed the vaccine preferences of its employees. Spokespeople for the hospital system, which employs more than 26,000 people, said Monday evening that they were just seeing the order and didn’t yet know what its impact would be.

In his executive order, Mr. Abbott said his mandate came in response to the federal government pushing large businesses to require vaccines for employees.

“The Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing Covid-19 vaccine mandates,” the order says.