Aug 25, 2021 - Health

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bans COVID vaccine mandates

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a border security briefing on June 30, 2021 in Weslaco, Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a June briefing in Weslaco, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Gov. Greg Abbott has issued an executive order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates by any Texas government entity and urged state lawmakers to pass it into law during the ongoing special session.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as Texas grapples with a massive surge in coronavirus cases and as the state reported the most COVID hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

Driving the news: The Republican governor took the action in response to the FDA granting full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for those ages 16 and older.

  • He previously banned vaccine passports implemented after emergency use authorizations.
  • "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 in a statement.

By the numbers: Texas saw 14,255 COVID hospitalizations on Wednesday, surpassing the Jan. 11 record of 14,218, AP notes.

The big picture: Abbott last week asked hospitals to delay nonessential medical procedures to free up hospital beds for COVID patients.

Of note: A CDC study out this week found unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID.

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