AUSTIN, Texas — (TNS) Gov. Greg Abbott is continuing to prohibit local governments, state universities and public hospitals from requiring anyone to get a COVID-19 shot, despite this week’s approval by the Food and Drug Administration of Pfizer’s vaccine.

On Wednesday, Abbott, who is still isolating after testing positive for the virus early last week, issued an executive order that continues to bar vaccine mandates by state agencies and political subdivisions. His earlier edict had just applied to COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use authorization.

Abbott also added the topic to the agenda of the current special session of the Legislature, which has to end by Sept. 5.

In his proclamation, the Republican governor noted that lawmakers earlier this year approved a ban on “vaccine passports” by businesses. Abbott said he acted to preserve “uniformity” and freedom of choice by individuals.

“Given the Legislature’s prior actions, maintaining the status quo of prohibiting vaccine mandates and ensuring uniformity pending the Legislature’s consideration means extending the voluntariness of COVID-19 vaccinations to all COVID-19 vaccinations, regardless of regulatory status,” he said in the executive order.

Abbott’s move, which appeared to foil plans by Parkland Memorial Hospital and other institutions to require vaccinations as soon as the shots won final FDA approval, angered Democrats.

Rep. Julie Johnson, D-Carrollton, noted Abbott has had “a battle royale” with school districts and local governments over requirements that Texans wear masks.

“Now he’s *recklessly* banned #VaccineMandates,” she tweeted. “How about you pick on #COVID19 instead, Governor?”

Abbott, though, said in a written statement that he wants lawmakers to weigh “whether any state or local governmental entities in Texas can mandate that an individual receive a COVID-19 vaccine and, if so, what exemptions should apply to such mandate.”

In the past, the Legislature has allowed exceptions for reasons of religion and conscience, he noted.

“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,” he said.

(Robert T. Garrett, The Dallas Morning News)