87th LegislatureHealthcareIssuesStatewide NewsNearly Three Years After Pandemic’s Start, Abbott Reiterates Support for Banning Vaccine Mandates

Support to codify a ban on COVID-19 vaccine mandates in state law is growing, with Gov. Abbott once again signaling his support for the legislation.
December 7, 2022
Several Texas lawmakers seeking to pass laws to ban vaccine mandates have received a significant boost of support for their legislation, with Gov. Greg Abbott announcing he’s backing the issue for the upcoming legislative session. 

The signal from Abbott is the latest in a trend of actions the governor has taken against vaccine mandates, having recently joined a letter to congressional leaders asking Congress to lift the vaccine mandate on military service members — a request that House lawmakers responded to by amending the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to lift the ban if passed. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine mandates have been a turbulent political issue. Numerous federal mandates have been legally challenged and struck down, including a mandate on private employers with over 100 employees. 

In Texas, Abbott has issued executive orders prohibiting vaccine mandates by both governmental entities and private employers continuously since October 2021, and had previously asked the Legislature to codify the order, something lawmakers failed to accomplish. 

The governor has repeatedly renewed the statewide disaster declaration he implemented due to COVID-19 in March 2020.

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Abbott reiterated his stance, asking the Legislature to codify the ban in a tweet this past week: “I expect legislation this session to ban ANY Covid vaccine mandate in Texas.” 

The news was well-received by two lawmakers. 

State Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Waxahatchcie) and Senator-elect Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville) issued a statement praising Abbott’s post and announced legislation the duo filed to enact the ban. 

According to the release, the legislation dubbed the “Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act” would ban all government and private mandates requiring the COVID-19 vaccine in the state. 

 “COVID vaccine mandates destroy medical freedom and have no place in Texas,” the lawmakers wrote in a joint statement.  

“Gov. Abbott is exactly right to demand a law banning them. We look forward to working with him to pass the ‘Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act’ so that he can sign into law the boldest assertion of individual liberty with respect to COVID vaccine mandates and the most comprehensive ban in America. Texas will lead the nation in fighting tyrannical COVID vaccine mandates next session.” 

Notably, Harrison served as the chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration and played a role in the launch of Operation Warp Speed, the White House initiative that led to the quick development of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The lawmakers elaborated on their decision to file the ban, citing “close to two years of empirical data on COVID-19 vaccines” that allege the vaccine is not very effective at preventing the transmission of the virus. 

They also described how mandates led to “counterintuitive” results, such as healthy unvaccinated healthcare workers being fired while vaccinated workers who were actively sick with the virus were called in to treat patients. 

Harrison has also released several documents that address questions and facts regarding the Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act. 


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Matt Stringer

Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.