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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Wednesday issued an executive order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates regardless of a vaccine's FDA approval status, the Texas Tribune reports. His previous executive order also prohibited COVID vaccine mandates, but only for shots under emergency use authorization.
The decision comes just one day after Pfizer-BioNTech's Comirnaty received full FDA approval, a certification many health officials and lawmakers hoped would encourage shot mandates and curb vaccine hesitancy. Instead, writes the Tribune, Abbott's message is the opposite: "No governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine," regardless of approval from the FDA. Exceptions are preserved for places like nursing homes and state-supported living centers, per the Tribune.
The order also maintains that state agencies and local political divisions cannot adopt or enforce vaccine mandates, and any public or private entity that receives government funding cannot deny entry based on vaccination status nor can it require customers to share that information, per Austin's KXAN.
Abbott's pandemic management has come under renewed scrutiny as embattled Texas school districts attempt to safely reopen and the highly-infectious Delta variant ravages the Gulf Coast. The governor recently tested negative for COVID-19 after having contracted the virus, saying his infection was "brief and mild" because he was vaccinated, per KXAN.