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AG Herring says Virginia universities, colleges can require COVID vaccine



In an official opinion, Attorney General Mark R. Herring said that Virginia colleges and universities “may condition in-person attendance on receipt of an approved COVID-19 vaccine during this time of pandemic.”

According to Herring, no federal law bars Virginia colleges from imposing such a requirement. Herring’s office says that the opinion may help provide guidance for the state’s colleges and universities as they begin to make plans for next fall’s academic year.

“We have seen how crucial vaccinations will be for keeping the COVID-19 pandemic under control and putting us on a path towards normalcy,” said Herring. “Virginia’s college and university students deserve the chance to go to classes in-person and take advantage of all that their schools have to offer, but over the past year we have seen numerous COVID outbreaks on school campuses, so we must make sure that they are doing so with the health and safety of their peers and communities in mind.”

In his opinion, Herring also explains that the Commissioner of Health has “the power of ‘requiring immediate immunization of all persons in case of an epidemic of any disease of public health importance for which a vaccine exists other than a person to whose health the administration of a vaccine would be detrimental as certified in writing by a physician licensed to practice medicine in this Commonwealth.’”

However, Herring says that the decision “remains up to the individual institutions to determine whether requiring students to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination has a real or substantial relation to protecting public health and safety on their campus.”

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