State Watch

Virginia’s new AG tells state colleges they can’t require COVID-19 vaccine for students

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) issued a legal opinion on Friday, telling public colleges and universities in the commonwealth that they cannot require students to get the coronavirus vaccine. 

“I conclude that, absent specific authority conferred by the General Assembly, public institutions of higher education in Virginia may not require vaccination against COVID-19 as a general condition of students’ enrollment or in-person attendance,” Miyares wrote in a letter to Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), who had asked for an advisory opinion on the matter. 

Miyares argued that because Virginia’s state legislature has not passed legislation mandating the vaccine for students, higher education institutions in the commonwealth do not have the right to mandate them. 

The opinion comes as the Youngkin administration has moved quickly to roll back coronavirus restrictions in Virginia that were previously put in place by former Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and his Democratic allies. Youngkin issued 11 executive orders after taking office earlier this month, including one that makes wearing masks optional in schools and another removing the vaccine requirement for state employees. 

Virginia Democrats were quick to hit back against Miyares’s legal opinion on Friday. 

“Yes, we’re surprised. Yes, we believe strongly it’s the wrong side to come down and arguably may not even be constitutional,” said Eileen Filler-Corn (D), minority leader of Virginia’s House of Delegates. 

The Deputy Secretary for Public Affairs for COVID Response at the Department of Health and Human Services, Ian Sams, also condemned Miyares’s move in a tweet on Friday. 

“Some of us are working to fight the virus. Others are fighting what works to stop the virus,” Sams tweeted, referring to Miyares’s opinion. 

Tags covid-19 restrictions Eileen Filler-Corn Glenn Youngkin Ian Sams Jason Miyares school vaccine mandate vaccine mandate Virginia

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