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Health Law Scan

Legal Insights and Perspectives for the Healthcare Industry

Members of our labor, employment and benefits team published a LawFlash covering Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s recently issued Executive Order No. GA-40 (EO GA-40), which purports to prohibit vaccine mandates, but in reality expands the scope of mandatory exemptions to such mandates. 

The order, which became effective on October 11, 2021, states that no entity, including a private business, may compel any employee or consumer to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine if that person “objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”

EO GA-40 does not actually ban vaccine mandates. Instead, EO GA-40 provides that they must be subject to certain exemptions. However, the scope of these required exemptions is not clear, as the language is ambiguous and can be interpreted in two different ways. First, it could be read as providing two grounds for exemption: “[1] for any reason of personal conscience, based on religious belief, or [2] for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19” (numerals added). Alternatively, it could be read as providing three distinct grounds for exemption: “[1] for any reason of personal conscience, [2] based on religious belief, or [3] for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19” (numerals added).

For further analysis of the executive order, read the full LawFlash.