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Gov. Greg Abbott says he will not impose another statewide mask mandate, despite COVID-19 cases being on the rise again.
“There will be no mask mandate imposed, and the reasons for that are very clear,” Abbott told KPRC-TV in Houston on Tuesday. “There are so many people who have immunities to COVID, whether it be through the vaccination, whether it be through their own exposure and their recovery from it, which would be acquired immunity.”
It would be “inappropriate to require people who already have immunity to wear a mask,” Abbott said.
Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Texas?
All people 12 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Texas. Children ages 12-17 can get the Pfizer vaccine, but COVID-19 vaccines are not mandatory for Texas students.
Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
State and local health officials say that vaccine supply is healthy enough to meet demand across much of Texas. Most chain pharmacies and many independent ones have a ready supply of the vaccine, which is administered free and mainly on a walk-in basis. Many private doctors' offices also have it. And you can check current lists of large vaccine hubs that are still operating here.
Public health departments also have vaccines. You can register with the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler either online or by phone. And businesses or civic organizations can set up their vaccine clinics to offer it to employers, visitors, customers or members.
Should I still get the vaccine if I've had COVID-19?
Yes. Medical experts recommend that people who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine. If someone’s treatment included monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, they should talk to their doctor before scheduling a vaccine appointment. The CDC recommends that people who received those treatments should wait 90 days before getting the vaccine.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Yes. Health experts and public officials widely agree that the vaccine is safe. The three currently approved vaccine manufacturers — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — reported their vaccines are 95%, 94% and 72% effective, respectively, at protecting people from serious illness. While no vaccine is without side effects, clinical trials for Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson show serious reactions are rare.
More vaccine info
During a news conference Wednesday in Houston, Abbott went further and expressed blanket resistance to any new restrictions to fight the virus. He said Texas is “past the time of government mandates” and “into the time for personal responsibility.”
While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors in most settings, the World Health Organization is still encouraging everyone to wear masks while inside.
As the delta variant has spread, some key pandemic indicators have increased in Texas. Late last week, the state’s positivity rate — the ratio of cases to tests — went above 10% for the first time since February, a threshold that Abbott has previously identified as dangerous.
As of Sunday, 43% of Texans were fully vaccinated.
Abbott lifted the statewide mask requirement in March. The mandate had been in place since summer of last year.
Two months later, he announced he was banning government entities — including public schools — from mandating masks. Abbott reiterated Tuesday that Texas schoolchildren will not face mask requirements as they return to school later this summer.
“Kids will not be forced by government or by schools to wear masks in school,” Abbott said. “They can by parental choice wear a mask, but there will be no government mandate requiring masks.”
Correction, July 21, 2021: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the date when the state’s rate of positive coronavirus tests went above 10% for the first time since February. The Department of State Health Services originally reported that the positivity rate exceeded 10% on Saturday, not Sunday as this story previously misstated, and later adjusted its data to indicate that the positivity rate exceeded 10% earlier than Saturday.