Texas Governor Greg Abbott has faced strong criticism for his decision to end COVID-19 restrictions in the state as the nation continues to deal with the deadly pandemic. The move has brought social media attention to a misleading claim about the Republican and the COVID-19 vaccine.
Abbott announced on Tuesday that a statewide mask mandate would be rescinded and all businesses would be able to open at full capacity effective March 10. He received widespread criticism from prominent political leaders in the state.
The governor also took heat from those on social media, where a claim that he’d had received the vaccine shortly before making the announcement was gaining traction early on Thursday morning.
Twitter user @Sundae_Gurl tweeted a photo of Abbott receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at around 10.14 EST on Tuesday. The tweet strongly suggested that he’d received the shot very recently.
“Governor Abbott receives his Covid shot before telling Texans to eat shit and die,” @Sundae_Gurl wrote.
The post had racked up more than 4,100 retweets—including quote tweets—and more than 8,000 likes at the time of writing. Many of the Twitter users responding to it seemed to think the photo was very recent and criticized Abbott, suggesting he was a hypocrite or didn’t care about the people of Texas.
The photo of Abbott receiving the vaccine is from December 2020. The governor was vaccinated on December 22, according to a report from The Texas Tribune at the time.
The article, which is still live at the newspaper’s website, features the photo, attributed to Ricardo B. Brazziell/POOL via American-Statesman. Footage of Abbott getting vaccinated can still be viewed on C-SPAN and was posted on December 22.
Abbott received the shot of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine at a televised event at Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas in the hopes of showing the state’s residents it was “safe and easy.”
The vaccine in question requires two doses. Abbott’s televised vaccination was his first dose. His second dose does not appear to have been publicized.
The graphic below, provided by Statista, shows how vaccine progress has spiked optimism among Americans.
“I will never ask any Texan to do something that I’m not willing to do myself,” Abbott said just before being vaccinated. The needle went into the governor’s left arm and he said he didn’t “feel a thing.”
“It’s that easy,” Abbott told the press. The event and his remarks were widely reported in the media.
Abbott stressed that he wanted to encourage people to get vaccinated because of polls showing some members of the public were “apprehensive” about it.
While technically Abbott received the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine before his decision to lift COVID-19 restrictions this week, the two events cannot reasonably be said to be related. The governor got the shot on December 22 and Texas has been under COVID-19 restrictions since that date.
The tweet in question falsely implies Abbott’s vaccination was very recent and perhaps a motivating factor in lifting restrictions. Though some Texas Democrats have said Abbott’s move will endanger lives, his order to end restrictions is unconnected to his vaccination.