In 2009, then-Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed a law requiring that every first-time college student living on campus in Texas get vaccinated against bacterial meningitis. The vote in the state legislature was unanimous, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
One of the state senators who supported it at the time was Republican Dan Patrick, who is now lieutenant governor of Texas and is opposing COVID-19 vaccination mandates.
Last week, Patrick tweeted that while he was personally vaccinated, that decision should “never be forced on anyone by the state or a private employer.” He has also touted the state GOP approach of working to “encourage vaccination without mandates in all populations.”
“I’m not a mandate guy. I’ve never been in favor of mandates,” he said in a March interview, supporting Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) decision to end the statewide mask mandate.
Patrick, along with the GOP governor and attorney general, has fought against local mask and vaccine mandates meant to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
In 2009, when Patrick supported the mandate for college students, there were 336 confirmed cases of bacterial meningitis in the state, according to a 2011 article by The Austin American-Statesman.
In contrast, on average, there are approximately 4,800 cases of COVID-19 each day in Texas.
His office did not return a request for comment for this piece.
In early September, President Joe Biden announced sweeping vaccination requirements for federal workers and contractors, as well as requiring all businesses with 100 or more employees to require testing at least once a week for unvaccinated workers.
Patrick is one of many GOP officials who are vigorously opposed to COVID-19 mandates, even though they were fine with other mandates in the past or support them now in other areas.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has said he strongly believes “it’s not the state or federal government’s role to issue a vaccine mandate,” but in 2017, he also signed a law requiring college students to get vaccinated against bacterial meningitis.
In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson condemned Biden’s vaccine mandate as “an insult to our American principles of individual liberty and free enterprise.” But as a state senator in 2014, he also supported requiring college students to get the meningitis vaccine.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has blasted the federal rules as “an authoritarian approach to government” and an attempt to “force Americans to get the vaccine — against their will.” But in 2019, Ducey declared himself “pro-vaccination” and condemned legislation that would have made it easier for parents to get exemptions from vaccinating their children.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has no problem with requiring school kids to undergo more than a dozen vaccinations and obey dress code rules.