(CNN) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday signed an executive order directing state executive branch agencies to cooperate with the Alabama attorney general’s office as it challenges the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates and, when possible, to not comply with the federal effort.
“I am adamantly opposed to federal mandates related to the Covid-19 vaccine and adamantly opposed to state mandates related to the Covid-19 vaccine, plain and simple,” the Republican governor said in a statement. “As long as I am your governor, the state of Alabama will not force anyone to take a Covid-19 vaccine.”
President Joe Biden in September imposed stringent new vaccine rules on federal workers, large employers and health care staff in a sweeping attempt to contain the coronavirus. Ivey’s executive order is the latest action from a Republican governor meant to hamper the adoption of public health measures that experts say are necessary to curb the pandemic.
“To the extent any such entity is required or compelled to impose such a penalty as a result of federal law, the entity shall take all practical steps to notify the affected business or individual that the State of Alabama does not approve, condone, or otherwise endorse the imposition of such penalty,” Ivey’s order states in part.
The order also prevents businesses or individuals from being penalized by the executive branch for refusing to comply with the mandate and protects public employees who refuse to share vaccination status when receiving government services or entering a government building.
Roughly 44% of Alabama residents are fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ivey joins Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida in pushing back against the federal mandate.
Abbott issued an executive order earlier this month banning all state entities, including private employers, from enforcing vaccine mandates. DeSantis announced plans last week to call the state Legislature for a special session to add “protections” related to federal vaccine mandates.
The President has elevated vaccine mandates as an important tool to contain the pandemic and prevent future outbreaks.
During a CNN town hall last week, Biden said he is concerned about those who try to make vaccines a political issue. “‘Freedom — I have the freedom to kill you with my Covid?’ No, I mean come on, freedom?” he said.