The Virginia Department of Health won’t pursue a request for a coronavirus vaccine mandate in the state’s public schools.
Citing a lack of “clear statutory authority,” the health department declined a petition started by parent Kristen Calleja calling for all eligible students and school personnel, with only a medical exemption permitted, to get vaccinated, WUSA-TV (Channel 9) reported.
The department said it made the decision because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t formally added the vaccine to its list of recommended immunizations for those 18 and younger.
“With respect to the petition, in light of the lack of clear statutory authority to implement vaccine mandates for school employees, no action is being taken as it relates to vaccine mandate school employees,” the department’s decision read, WUSA reported.
The department said the petition was posted for a 21-day public comment period and got 15,308 comments. Of the comments posted, 93% were against a school vaccine mandate and 5.5% favored it, WUSA reported.
Those against a mandate cited reasons such as wanting vaccinations to remain voluntary, the lack of allowance for religious exemptions, and reservations about the safety and efficacy.
Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin has said he plans to repeal the current vaccine mandate for state employees and mask mandates in schools.