Get the best experience and stay connected to your community with our Spectrum News app. Learn More
Continue in Browser
Get hyperlocal forecasts, radar and weather alerts.
Please enter a valid zipcode.
A North Texas member of the Texas House – who played a role in coronavirus strategy during the Trump administration – has made good on his promise to file the Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act.
Rep. Brian Harrison, R-Waxahachie, is the former chief of staff for Health and Human Services director Alex Azar during President Donald Trump’s administration. His specific duties included leading the agency’s day-to-day coronavirus response and his biography notes he helped launch Operation Warp Speed.
Harrison said he drafted the Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act within hours of being elected. The bill, House Bill 807, deletes sections of the Education Code that give the commissioner at the Department of State Health Services the authority to modify or delete immunizations.
“Unelected bureaucrats must not be able to force vaccines on Texas students. Shockingly, Texas law allows this,” Harrison wrote on Twitter on Monday. “I filed HB 807 to return the authority to the people’s elected representatives and to ban CDC recommendations from ever being automatically binding on Texans.”
Harrison also attached a letter he sent to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, signed by 20 Texas legislators, that expressed deep concern about a recent CDC committee decision to add COVID-19 vaccines to the list of immunizations required for school children. Those who signed the letter included two members with medical degrees: Lynn Stucky and Tom Oliverson.
🚨Unelected #CDC bureaucrats must not make healthcare decisions for Texas children. Proud to announce a coalition of #txlege members sent a letter to the CDC Director formally rejecting their unscientific efforts to force #COVID vaccines on Texas students. (1/x) pic.twitter.com/FSMDTL8Ghh
Harrison’s bill was praised by Texans for Vaccine Choice, which is hosting sessions on informed consent around the state. The group calls choice on vaccines "medical liberty."
The Immunization Partnership, which advocates for vaccines, said lawmakers can play politics with people’s health or lawmakers can protect people’s health.
"The question to ask ourselves about legislation like this is ‘Will this keep Texas kids safe from disease?’ This proposal does not," said Executive Director Terri Burke. "This proposal intentionally creates roadblocks for the state health agency responsible for keeping kids safe from outbreaks."
State lawmakers have a role to play in policy, Burke said, but during a public health emergency "we don’t have the luxury of dismissing warnings and guidance from qualified medical professionals trained to safeguard our health and well-being.”
Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott filed an executive order that informed the Texas Education Agency and school superintendents that the COVID-19 vaccine could not be mandated for school attendance, a move that was also hailed by Texans for Vaccine Choice.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GOV. ABBOTT ANSWERS TFVC CALL TO ASSURE PARENTS TEXAS WILL NEVER MANDATE COVID SHOTS ON TEXAS CHILDREN
Read more below or here: https://t.co/RrgzJaKQYw pic.twitter.com/CfU3He1fNd
Last year, Harrison called for a fourth special session to address what he called tyrannical mandates by federal agencies.
"Rep. Harrison is fully vaccinated, helped launch Operation Warp Speed, and encourages others to consider vaccination," according to his press release. "However, he believes the decision to take a COVID vaccine should be made by choice and is fighting to protect individual liberty against coercive mandates."
Harrison won the House District 10 seat during a contentious special election in September 2021, defeating former Rep. John Wray. He faced no challengers for the November general election, so his name did not appear on the ballot.