With the Republican Party of Texas state convention only one week away, Texans for Vaccine Choice (TFVC) is calling for a new GOP priority focused on protecting Texans from vaccine mandates.

TFVC was created in 2015 to protest a Texas House bill proposing to eliminate students’ religious exemptions from vaccines. After COVID-19 emerged in 2020, the organization protested mandates requiring the new COVID-19 vaccine, including cases where individuals faced termination from their jobs after refusing the vaccine.

At the GOP convention, state delegates select which issues will become priorities for the party at the next legislative session. After the party selects official priorities, Republican lawmakers typically craft legislation advancing those issues during the legislative session. This year, TFVC is calling for the party to make the banning of vaccine mandates a priority.

Christine Welborn, executive director of TFVC, explained the organization believes banning vaccine mandates is a high-priority issue for all Texans because individuals are still being fired for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We were contacted recently by someone whose daughter is in the Texas National Guard. She’s about to lose her job at the end of the month,” said Welborn. “We’ve had tons of people at various conventions that we’ve gone to … [tell] us that they’ve either lost their job, they might lose their job, or they’re having trouble finding a job in their industry.”

To promote vaccine choice at the convention, TFVC is creating a petition addressed to Gov. Greg Abbott calling for action on vaccine mandates. The group is also encouraging attendees to act as representatives for TFVC and to ask candidates running in the upcoming November election to sign their Vaccine Choice Protection Pledge.

During the statewide convention, delegates from Texas’ 31 Senate districts hear testimony from various groups and individuals promoting different issues. They then select a set number of these issues to become the GOP’s official priorities. Welborn highlighted how Texans concerned about vaccine mandates can help TFVC promote vaccine choice at the Republican convention.

“If you’re going to the regular convention part, you can help us with voting. You can help us with being our eyes and ears in the Senate district caucuses, getting those pledge-signers, just basically being ambassadors for vaccine choice,” said Welborn. “And you can actually sign up to be a delegate for us, and we will give you a whole toolkit of different things that you can do for us and to help vaccine choice.”

Welborn also stressed the need for legislation banning vaccine mandates and highlighted how the issue still poses a threat to Texans even as public attention is drawn away from COVID-19.

“People are still suffering, and it’s not something that’s going to go away,” said Welborn. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh well, COVID is over. They’re not going to keep doing this.’ Well, now there’s monkeypox and whatever else may come along the way. They’ve done it to us once; they may do it again. So, we need to make sure we have actual legislation to keep it from happening.”

Katy Drollinger

Katy is eager to use her skills in writing and research to accurately report on issues for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.

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