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Bill would keep unelected Texas health officials from mandating student vaccines

Bill would keep unelected Texas health officials from mandating student vaccines
Bill would keep unelected Texas health officials from mandating student vaccines 01:57

TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - While Governor Greg Abbott's executive order has banned state and local school boards from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for Texas students, Republican State Representative Brian Harrison of Waxahachie wants to make that permanent. 

He said after the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended the vaccine for all students, he learned the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has the authority to decide the vaccines students must receive.

On Nov. 28, Harrison filed a bill to change the law, so that state legislators make that decision instead. 

"We've got to undo that immediately. If a decision like that of such consequence is going to be made, it's got to be made by the people's elected representatives in the legislature," said Harrison. "It strips unelected bureaucrats to force vaccines on children in the state of Texas. It makes it harder for unelected bureaucrats to keep kids out of school unless the legislature has weighed-in."

Democratic State Senator Nathan Johnson of Dallas said he's concerned about the legislation. 

"I think it's a spectacularly bad idea." 

Johnson said the Republican majority should reject it. 

"I think the only way we stop it is we communicate with a majority of the Republican legislators, because this will be pushed on the Republican side, and convince them it's not in their best interest or their constituents' best interest to be putting day to day medical decisions into the hands of non-medical professionals." 

Students in Texas are required to get immunized against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, and polio, and that won't change under this legislation.

Representative Harrison said Governor Abbott's executive order will go away once he ends his public health declaration for the pandemic, which Harrison said needs to happen quickly. 

"It's past time for that to end in Texas." Harrison said he's optimistic his bill will pass. "The last thing we should be doing is looking to one or two single public health experts who occupy bureaucratic roles, nameless, faceless, unaccountable to any of the governed."

Harrison served as Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration and helped launch Operation Warp Speed, which made the COVID-19 vaccine available to the public for the first time. But he has opposed vaccine mandates. 

Harrison has filed a separate bill that would prohibit all COVID-19 vaccine requirements in the state. The legislative session will begin in early January and run through Memorial Day weekend.

Follow Jack on Twitter & Facebook: @cbs11jack

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