Governor Northam: No plans for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Virginia

Governor Northam: No plans for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in Virginia
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's office says there are no plans to mandate any COVID-19 vaccine in the commonwealth. (Source: Governor Northam's Office)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s office says there are no plans to mandate any COVID-19 vaccine in the commonwealth.

State health officials are finalizing plans to distribute a vaccine, once approved and ready.

“We’ve established a vaccine unit within VDH’s unified command. We also have some vaccine advisory groups which help consult and review data on safety, efficacy and operational decisions,” Virginia Department of Health Deputy Commissioner for Population Health Dr. Laurie Forlano said.

With guidance now out from a CDC advisory panel, health care workers and nursing home residents will get first priority for a coronavirus vaccine in Virginia. The state will follow the CDC’s prioritization recommendations. The supply will be limited at first.

“CDC will begin to allocate vaccine to states based on population. So Virginia will get about 2.6% of the nationwide allocation,” Dr. Forlano said. “In a parallel process, the vaccine will be allocated to directly to specific pharmacies that are participating in two different programs. One is specific to long-term care facilities and the other is a federal pharmacy partnership.”

The governor’s office also says since the current vaccines haven’t been approved for children, Northam will wait to make any decision on that front once the information comes into focus.

As for why the governor isn’t mandating the vaccine, a spokesperson said, “We expect Virginians will be eager to take the vaccine and get behind us.”

The state has to finalize its distribution plan and submit it to the federal government by Friday.

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