Texas' Republican governor Gregg Abbott on Monday announced he was banning Covid-19 vaccine mandates for any entities in his state, including private companies.
"I issued an Executive Order prohibiting vaccine mandates by ANY entity in Texas," the governor wrote on Twitter.
"The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced," he said.
The tweet included an attachment of the press release announcing the executive order, which stipulated that "no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination by any individual, including an employee or consumer, who 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."
The order came after Democratic President Joe Biden last month announced the government would demand vaccines for federal workers and for businesses with more than 100 employees.
Many leading Republicans have described the mandate as an overreach and an attack on personal freedoms.
Abbott, who had earlier been a forceful opponent of mask mandates, in August tested positive for Covid-19, after attending an indoor public event. The governor is fully vaccinated.
While his anti-mask and anti-vaccine mandate stance has won him support from loyalists of former president Donald Trump, it has drawn strong criticism from Texas Democrats.
Julian Castro, a former Democratic presidential candidate and ex-mayor of the city of Austin, said in August that Abbott "has put his own Republican primary politics before the public health since day one."