Virginia AG says colleges, universities can’t mandate COVID-19 vaccines

Virginia’s new attorney general has followed the new governor’s lead in striking a blow against COVID-19 safety regulations.

Attorney General Jason Miyares said on Friday, in an opinion written at the request of Gov. Glenn Youngkin, that public universities in the commonwealth cannot mandate COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of enrollment or in-person attendance.

Miyares said in the opinion that a previous opinion, issued by his predecessor, Mark Herring, held that public universities could mandate vaccines under their authority under Virginia law to “make regulations and policies” concerning their institutions.

Miyares said, however, that power was superseded by the passage in Virginia law that specifies mandated vaccinations in public colleges and universities, including diphtheria, polio, measles, German measles and mumps — but not COVID-19. Miyares acknowledged that the Virginia General Assembly could mandate COVID-19 vaccines at institutions of higher learning, but it hasn’t.

The opinion comes after Youngkin, on his first day in office, eliminated the vaccine mandate for state employees and banned mask mandates in schools. He’s been sued by parent groups and seven school systems, including Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William counties and Alexandria.

Miyares’ spokeswoman said in a statement accompanying the opinion that Miyares is vaccinated and boosted, and encourages everyone to get the shots.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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