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As vaccine mandates grow, why some say it should be a choice

As of Tuesday, 47% of Texans have not received the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Department of State Health Services.

TEXAS, USA — Fears over the delta variant and lower coronavirus vaccination rates are causing the debate for vaccine mandates to heat up. 

In the past few weeks, more companies and governments announced they will require companies to get the vaccine.

"Our challenge is going to be whether we are going to stand as a community and everyone who can get vaccinated, gets vaccinated," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, the Austin-Travis County health authority, on Tuesday. 

As of Tuesday, 47% of Texans have not received the COVID-19 vaccine, according to data tracked by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).  

KVUE spoke with Jackie Schlegel, executive director of Texans for Vaccine Choice about why this is the case. She explained many people are worried about the lack of liability with the vaccine, calling it a "litigation nightmare." 

"Individuals are saying, 'Hey, if I get this vaccine, if something does happen, if I'm injured by this product, where do I go for help?' And they are realizing that there's nothing out there," Schlegel said. 

The group is not discouraging people from getting the vaccine; however, it is urging companies to let people make decisions they believe are best for themselves.

A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 12% of all adults in the U.S. are "waiting to see" how the vaccine is working on other people, while 13% of adults say they will "definitely not" get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Schlegel and her family are unvaccinated. She explained that her child had a severe adverse reaction to a vaccine when they were younger, which is why she now advocates for allowing people to have a choice. 

"We're not telling anybody not to get vaccinated. We're just simply saying, 'Hey, let's have the conversations about this. Allow us to work with our chosen medical providers to make these decisions, give us informed consent, give us medical privacy, and ultimately give us a choice,'" Schlegel said.

This comes on the heels of major decisions made by local health care providers Baylor, Scott & White and Ascension, which announced employees would be required to get vaccinated by this fall.

Government leaders are following this path. President Joe Biden pushed federal employees to get the shot with new requirements for those unvaccinated. 

Austin Mayor Steve Adler also indicated similar intensions; however, an executive order passed by Gov. Greg Abbott prohibits restricts any state or local agency and any public or private entity that is receiving or will receive public funds through any means from mandating masks or requiring proof of vaccination.

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