Abbott’s order is the latest in a veritable tug-of-war between the state government and localities. About a month ago, the governor issued his first vaccine mandate prohibition, but it only applied to vaccines under an emergency use authorization and only to governmental entities. That category applied to all COVID-19 vaccines until the FDA approved Pfizer’s on Monday.
That same day, San Antonio ISD altered its previous vaccine mandate to only those approved by the FDA.
Before the FDA approval, the school district issued its mandate that all staff be vaccinated by October 15, which was challenged in court by the Office of the Attorney General.
And now after the governor’s latest order, San Antonio ISD says it will maintain its vaccination policy for staff in defiance of the state. “We strongly believe that the safest path forward as a school district is for all staff to become vaccinated against COVID-19,” the district said in a statement.
“We are moving forward with our request to have all staff vaccinated by October 15, unless they have a medical or religious exemption.”
But the district’s statement uses the word “request” in place of its previously used “require” about its vaccination policy — a maneuver likely attempting to avoid further litigation.
“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,” Abbott said Wednesday, throwing the proverbial ball into the legislature’s court.
To that end, Abbott added to the special session agenda list “whether any state or local governmental entities in Texas can mandate that an individual receive a COVID-19 vaccine and, if so, what exemptions should apply to such mandate.”
The Texas House now has a restored quorum after close to 40 days without and with it comes the ability to pass legislation. The legislature now has 10 days to complete the business with which it has been tasked before the clock runs out on this second special session.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.