Republican Virginia lieutenant governor nominee Winsome Sears refused to say whether she was vaccinated during a recent interview with CNN released on Thursday.
“My life is very public. It’s just the way it is. But I want to hold certain things close,” Sears, a former member of Virginia’s House of Delegates, told CNN, adding that once people inquire about vaccination statuses it becomes a “slippery slope.”
“What are we going to ask for now, HIV status? What else are we going to ask for?” she asked.
“We have to be very careful. We live in a freedom-loving society, America,” she continued. “And if we’re not careful, we’re going to start asking for other things, because we have already determined that this is everybody’s business.”
Sears’s Democratic opponent in next month’s election, state Del. Hala Ayala, told CNN that she hopes Sears “gets the vaccine if she hasn’t already.”
“We’re not going to stand by and allow it to continue,” Ayala said. “So we need to get vaccinated. We definitely need to follow CDC guidance. And I don’t think this has to do with any politics. This is about public health and safety.”
Sears issued a tweet encouraging people to get vaccinated after CNN’s story was published.
“I encourage everyone to get the vaccine but no one should be forced to disclose their vaccination status, especially not to liberal hack reporters at CNN,” Sears said. “The media is trying to carry the water for the failing McAuliffe-Ayala ticket and it won’t work.”
Virginia Democrats, led by gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe, have sought to make vaccine mandates a key issue in the governor’s race, painting GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin and down-ballot Republicans as extreme on the issue.
Youngkin has maintained that he is vaccinated and strongly encourages others to get the vaccination, noting that it saves lives. However, he has also said that the choice should be up to individuals and that McAuliffe has gone too far with supporting mandates, saying the Democratic would be willing to allow people to be fired if they did not comply with a mandate.
Updated at 12:49 p.m.