AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday instructed the Texas Education Agency (TEA) that schools cannot mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for students.
In a new letter to the TEA, Gov. Abbott stated that an executive order from August 2021 overrides a recent recommendation from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for public schools to have the COVID-19 vaccine included in the yearly immunization schedule.
The executive order, No. GA-39, states that vaccine mandates and passports are prohibited and are subject to legislative action. The order details that no government entity can compel an individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or enforce any measure that requires the person to provide documentation for it.
In a letter to the TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, Abbott detailed that Texas parents should be able to opt out of the COVID-19 vaccine for their children. This would allow them to be "further empower[ed] ... to be the primary decisionmakers in their children's health care," a Thursday release from Abbott's office stated.
The Texas Legislature enabled parents to opt out of vaccinating their children for health reasons through a variety of different safety codes, including the Texas Education Code 38.01(c)(1), Texas Health and Safety Code 161.004(d), 161.0041 and Texas Human Resources Code 42.043(d).
“Despite attempts at federal overreach into the health care decisions of Americans, in Texas, we continue to honor and defend the freedom of parents to choose what is best for the health and well-being of their families,” the letter states. “Regardless of what the CDC may suggest, in Texas, the COVID-19 vaccine remains voluntary. Texas schools shall not require students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for any reason.”
The CDC recommendations do not create a federal vaccine mandate for students, but many schools rely on the guidelines to create entry requirements for students.
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: