In this edition of the Weekly Briefing, we are counting down the final two weeks until Christmas and wanted to share some information that I hope you will find helpful.
It is crystal clear that Christmas is right around the corner as our house is so brightly lit, the crew on the International Space Station sent us a note to turn down the lights. Even this last weekend, Fanny still had the urge to battle the Christmas crowds to find the perfect, final Christmas decorations to finish off the house. The house wasn’t complete without it. During this busy, festive season, I am constantly reminded of how grateful I am to spend these days with Fanny and the boys. Calob turned 10 Thanksgiving week and Jacob turned 14 this week, so I know it won’t be long before they are grown and out of the house. Our prayer for you and your family this season is that you are able to spend time resting with the people you love and reflecting on the most important things in life.
Fortunately, this year looks much more normal than last year and many people plan on travelling to see family and friends. It doesn’t feel cold enough to be true, but we know it is flu season and we have gotten some questions about how people should prepare for flu season this year as they travel, especially because we didn’t really have a normal flu season last year.
I had some questions about this myself, so I spent some time with Dr. Annamaria Macaluso-Davidson. She practices general preventive and occupational medicine at Memorial Hermann. Clearly a real Texan, she proudly displays her degrees from both UT and Texas A&M.
I asked Dr. Davidson some questions about flu season, getting the flu shot, and what might be different this year. You can watch the full video of our conversation (about 10 minutes) below.
Dr. Davidson answers questions about the Flu Shot
What about timelines? Does the flu shot become effective at preventing the flu as soon as you get the shot?
Many thanks to Dr. Davidson for taking the time to answer some of these FAQs from our constituents and readers. The flu shot and COVID vaccine are both widely available (flu shot for everyone 6 months and up, COVID vaccine for everyone 5 years and up) in Fort Bend County and surrounding areas for those who are looking to get their shots or boosters. Both shots take about two weeks (from the second dose of the COVID shot, the flu shot is still just one dose for most older kids and adults) to reach their full effectiveness. If you plan to get yours before travelling this year, make sure to plan ahead.
The availability of these vaccines is the result of hard work by many individuals in the healthcare community, and I am grateful that everyone who wants to get a vaccine is able to do so. As always, I believe individuals should have the freedom to choose what is right for themselves and their families.
Some government officials, including those in the Biden Administration, have attempted to force vaccine mandates on individuals, businesses, and the healthcare sector. I joined an amicus curiae brief with many other members of the Texas Legislature opposing this unconstitutional example of government overreach. You can read more in the press release below.
I am proud to say there are currently NO FEDERAL VACCINE mandates in place as various courts have issued temporary injunctions to review them further. The courts are in the process of reviewing these federal mandates and it appears likely that will all be struck down permanently.
As you may remember, Governor Abbott issued an Executive Order GA-40, stating that “no entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”
So why are some constituents still getting notification that they must apply for an exemption, get a vaccine, or be terminated? A big part of this is the ongoing legal battle on the issue. Texas laws are clear: the Governor has the authority to issue this Executive Order. Counties, municipalities, school districts, etc. do not have the ability to issue contradictory orders. Anyone dealing with a governmental entity trying to enforce a vaccine mandate can report it to the Attorney General’s office.
Private businesses are a little more complicated. The Governor’s Executive Order essentially requires businesses with a vaccine mandate to provide an exemption process for individuals who do not want to get the COVID vaccine for any medical reason, religious reason, or personal conviction. However, the order does not prohibit these businesses from instituting a deadline to comply with their vaccination rules. The order also does not prohibit them from denying exemption requests, though these denials must still comply with the Texas Labor Code, which already addresses the issue of potential reasonable accommodations more broadly.
The Texas Workforce Commission provided a bit more information on the topic as well as contact information for the agency. If you believe you were terminated because of a refusal to get the COVID vaccine, or for a related reason, I encourage you to contact their office to see about your next steps and what options are available to you.
Our Constitution and the design of our government by our Founding Fathers placed an emphasis on limited government and the rights of each individual. The rights of each individual are protected in the constitution, from government interference. We have further laws in place to protect individuals from harming or negatively impacting others around them. We are now entering a phase of determining when a business has overstepped its authority with employees and customers.
This is an evolving issue that I will continue to navigate with an emphasis on the right of the individual to make the best decisions for themselves and their family. It is that freedom that sits at the foundation of our country’s existence and we shall preserve it.
I hope you have a great week ahead as you prepare your homes and family for the joyous Christmas Day approaching, where we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.