Texans for Vaccine Choice works tirelessly to protect and advance informed consent, medical privacy, and vaccine choice. Here are some of the highlights of our work in 2020!
Primary campaign season was in full swing! Having earned our reputation as the hardest working grassroots organization in the state, we once again launched our boots-on-the-ground get-out-the-vote efforts. We carefully vetted all candidates for potential endorsement and were excited to endorse sixty-two candidates. We reached thousands of Texas voters with our public education campaigns consisting of our Common Voter Questions FAQ and instructions on how to register to vote.
As we continued our primary election work, we organized our enthusiastic volunteers into teams to block walk, poll greet, and phone bank for our priority races. We published our voter guide and began our early voting reminders and countdowns. We launched our largest ever volunteer recruitment campaign for our SEVEN planned summer 2020 conventions. Perhaps one of the most exciting things that happened this month was that TFVC signed a lease on our first ever office space! This hard-earned milestone was a testament to the organization’s growth and represented the start of many exciting new opportunities for TFVC and its members.
With convention season quickly approaching, we submitted our application for the Texas Democratic Convention. We were soon notified that our application had been denied, speaking volumes about the Democratic Party’s position on medical freedom and vaccine choice. Our experience with the Republican Party of Texas State Convention was far more positive. Republicans overwhelmingly adopted our Informed Consent Resolution, which was the first of its kind to advocate for medical freedom of choice without consequence for all Texans. We educated and equipped our 80 potential delegates with all of the information they needed to participate in their precinct and SD conventions.
As Texans began grappling with the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting restrictions and lockdowns, TFVC initiated several informational campaigns, including a page on our website dedicated to the latest COVID-19 news and a separate page with information on how the declared emergency may or may not impact current vaccine exemption laws. In keeping with our mission to provide educational resources to the public, we partnered with The Truth About Vaccines and promoted the free week-long online viewing of their docu-series. Concerned about Governor Abbott’s COVID-19 vaccine rhetoric, we began a series of Action Alerts to fight for Texans’ medical freedom.
As Governor Abbott continued to make references to “normal life” not returning until we had a vaccine, we issued an Action Alert for our Champion Legislators to reach out to Gov. Abbott to ask for clarification of his stance on mandatory vaccines. We are happy to report that as of late, Gov. Abbott is careful to specifically state that vaccines will always remain voluntary every time he mentions the COVID-19 vaccine.
Growing increasingly weary of our state government’s overreach, TFVC members statewide enthusiastically participated in our Action Alerts to oppose contact tracing and to hold colleges accountable for denying exemptions based on the declared emergency. The college exemption issue began to affect more and more students, resulting in TFVC partnering with a family as they filed a lawsuit against a school that denied their son entrance based on his vaccination status. As we began to receive an increasing number of reports of college students having their exemptions denied as a result of the declared state of emergency, we launched an Action Alert requesting clarification on the law from the Governor and Lt. Governor. TFVC also worked and communicated with the Attorney General’s office to obtain clarification on vaccine exemptions during an outbreak.
We celebrated the run-off victories of TFVC Endorsed Candidates and proudly logged over 100 volunteer hours in campaign efforts! The momentum from our victories carried over into the Republican Party of Texas Convention. Despite the many unknowns due to potential COVID-19 restrictions, we loaded up our booth materials and were ready to participate in any way we could. We arrived only to find the exhibit hall had been canceled, but we are never ones to surrender to apparent defeat! We set up our booth in the hotel and reached nearly every attendee with our message while staying connected with thousands of followers via live videos taking them through the convention process along with us. Our Informed Consent Resolution was extremely well received and several planks related to vaccine choice and medical freedom were added to the party platform! It is clear the Texans of the Republican Party whole-heartedly support TFVC’s mission.
Threatened by our proactive actions with the Attorney General, the Texas Medical Association issued an unsolicited statement to the Attorney General advocating for the removal of all unvaccinated children from school during a declared epidemic. We empowered Texans to take action against this blatant threat to their rights by encouraging them to contact the Attorney General and urge him to rule on this issue. As news of an upcoming COVID-19 vaccine began to spread, we launched a petition to Governor Abbott to oppose any COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Over 60,000 Texans signed the petition to oppose vaccine mandates. Our organization grew six-fold and so did our need for volunteers, so we began recruitment for the newly launched Communications Team to more efficiently relay our message to the public and our Member Care Coordinators to provide much needed community and resources to our members.
We took on the State Board of Education! The current vaccine-related Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) have opened the door for the bullying of Texas students and allowed for classroom conversations that create a discriminatory and combative learning environment. We issued an Action Alert calling for Texans to participate in the TEKS hearings and voice their concerns regarding discussions of vaccines in the classroom to the State Board of Education members. SBOE members reported receiving an unprecedented amount of emails on this issue and several citizens served as witnesses in multiple virtual hearings in response to our Action Alert. While ultimately the pressure from the medical industry was too much for the SBOE members to withstand, we are proud to say we educated all fifteen SBOE members on issues related to informed consent and vaccine choice and made a name for ourselves in a new area of advocacy.
We were excited to support forty-eight endorsed candidates leading up to the General Election! We reached thousands of Texas voters with our get-out-the-vote efforts — over ten thousand voters referenced our voter guide on our website! Our social media influence continued to grow as our followers engaged with our pages at a rate of 45%, meaning half of our followers are actively engaged in commenting on and sharing our content. In keeping with our mission to educate the public on issues surrounding our cause, we launched our weekly In Case You Missed It email campaign highlighting the top COVID vaccine news stories from the week.
WE WON!! Forty-six of our endorsed candidates WON their General Election bids! This month also featured our very first Fall Freedom Fest! It was an exciting three-day event featuring Dr. Bob Sears and Melissa Floyd, Del Bigtree, some of our champion legislators and frontline doctors with opportunities for our members to participate both in person and online. The event included our very first Open House in our new office where we welcomed our members to join us for an evening of community and fun.
Flying high off of our November victories, we excitedly focused our attention on preparing for the upcoming legislative session and we launched a five city fundraising tour! This was our most successful fundraising month in our history as Texans recognize our influence and the importance of supporting our mission to secure the right to informed consent, medical privacy, and vaccine choice for all Texas citizens. Our message of medical freedom and vaccine choice has been received with open arms in every Texas city we have visited and these opportunities for in-person contact with the community are priceless.
Influence At A Glance
- Our membership grew six-fold in 2020
- TFVC website had 202,688 NEW visitors from 141 countries
- Our social media platforms saw a 25% increase in followers over the year, resulting in over 41,000 followers across four platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and MeWe)
- TFVC app has been downloaded more than 450 times since its launch in December 2020!
- TFVC’s Member Care Team spent over 5,000 hours caring for fellow Texans
- TFVC Executive Director Jackie Schlegel was interviewed or requested to be interviewed by more than a dozen local, national, and international news organizations including Newsweek, CNN, LA Times, and Texas Monthly.
- We drove over 3,000 miles to speak at 16 in-person events despite obstacles created by COVID-19 shutdowns and reached an estimated combined audience of over 5,000 politically active Texans.