Brazoria County Sheriff won't require employees to get COVID vaccine despite federal mandate

ANGLETON, Texas (KTRK) -- As Texas and the United States continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, more elected leaders are lashing out at President Joe Biden's plan to require some businesses and all federal government employees to be vaccinated against the virus.

Add Brazoria County Sheriff Bo Stallman to that list.

In a letter to sheriff's office employees Saturday, Stallman said he would not require them to adhere to any vaccine mandate, calling it an attempt to infringe on individual freedoms.

"As a protector and defender of your individual liberties, I want you to know that you will not be required by the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office to adhere to any vaccine mandate or any other mandate that would attempt to infringe on your individual liberties and freedoms," Stallman wrote. "I want to be clear, this is not taking a stance towards support or opposition of the vaccine. Rather a firm assurance that your freedoms and rights will be defended on my watch."

RELATED: Texas sues 6 school districts that issued mask mandates

In his address to the nation on Thursday introducing his new six-part approach, a frustrated Biden went after the unvaccinated and elected officials for standing in the way of public health measures and, he said, causing people to die.

"These pandemic politics, as I refer to it, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die. We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal," Biden said.

SEE ALSO: Gov. Abbott slams Biden administration over sweeping new vaccine mandates

The plan calls for OSHA to issue a mandate to businesses with more than 100 employees to require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing. Biden's plan also calls for federal government employees and contractors to be required to receive the vaccine.

"Today, we have a domestic enemy: The potential of a tyrannical, overreaching government that threatens to violate the constitutional rights of our citizens," Stallman also wrote.

The sheriff joins a growing number of elected officials across the nation who are speaking out against the Biden Administration's plan, including some who have threatened legal action.

"South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, tweeted to Biden, "see you in court," while Mississippi GOP Gov. Tate Reeves compared him to a "tyrant," and South Carolina GOP Gov. Henry McMaster said he'll "fight them to the gates of hell" to stop the move. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Biden's approach "flat-out un-American."

When ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott asked Biden on Friday what his message was to Republicans threatening to challenge his move in court, he responded, "Have at it."

The rules could impact around 80 million Americans, including roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid.

Since the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office is a county-wide agency, it's not clear what, if any, impact Stallman's plan will have.

After the letter was sent to employees, the sheriff's office posted a copy on its Facebook page. By Sunday, it had been shared more than 1,200 times.

"Most certainly this stance taken by Sheriff Stallman may not be popular with everyone and we respect each individual to form their own opinions and their right to decide for themselves, not the government to do what is best for themselves and their family," a representative of the sheriff's office wrote. "In fact, that is exactly what Sheriff Stallman is protecting, our rights to choose for ourselves. Thank you Sheriff Stallman!"



ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.