CORONAVIRUS VACCINES

Why is Texas Governor Greg Abbott rejecting vaccine mandates?

Last month President Biden introduced new restrictions for unvaccinated workers, but some states have moved to overturn the mandates with their own orders.

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Why is Texas Governor Greg Abbott rejecting vaccine mandates?
Lucas Jackson REUTERS

Texas’ Republican Governor Greg Abbott has issued a stern response to the vaccine mandate introduced by President Biden last month, accusing the White House of “bullying” behaviour. On Monday, Abbott implemented a ban on all covid-19 vaccine mandates in the state of Texas, with private employees also barred from introducing their own requirements.

The order states that "no entity in Texas" will be able to compel an individual to show proof of vaccination, including both employees and customers. Huge companies like Facebook and Google, who employee a large number of people in the state, had previously told employees that they would need to be vaccinated to return to the office.

When asked about the Texas vaccine order, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that federal law should take precedence over a state’s decision. She added that, in her view, Abbott was attempting to block the vaccine mandate for one reason: “Politics.”

Texas governor in conflict with the White House

The decision by Gov. Abbott has put him on a collision course with President Biden, who has repeatedly emphasised the importance of vaccination to a return to normality. Since Biden introduced the most far-reaching covid-19 vaccine mandates to date last month, Reuters reports that several thousand people have already been fired for refusing to get the shot.

The debate over the safe, effective and fully-authorised vaccines has become increasingly polarised in recent months, and even requirements for healthcare workers to get the shot have been a partisan issue.

Biden has become increasingly frustrated with the reluctance of tens of millions of Americans to get vaccinated, speaking of the need to “protect vaccinated workers from the unvaccinated.”

Last month, when the two White House executive orders were first introduced, more than 100 million workers were covered by the vaccine mandates. It applied to all large employers and healthcare providers, and covered around two-thirds of the national workforce.

Vaccination is the key facet of the Biden administration’s covid-19 response and the President has shown himself willing to enact new, more restrictive legislation to encourage more people to get the freely-available vaccinations.

"Let me be blunt: My plan also takes on elected officials and states that are undermining you and these life-saving actions," Biden said, responding to the prospect of some states looking to undermine his efforts. "If these governors won't help us beat the pandemic, I will use my power as president to get them out of the way."