UVA responds to Virginia’s AG vaccine mandate opinion

Virginia’s Attorney General says colleges cannot make students get the COVID-19 vaccine
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 5:33 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares says universities cannot make students get the COVID-19 vaccine. In his first legal opinion, issued Friday, January 28, he says the General Assembly would first have to issue a law.

A law professor at the University of Virginia says in the short term, there will not be any changes but Miyares’ opinion could have some long-term impacts.

“Most students and most faculty have already not only been vaccinated, but gotten boosters,” Margaret Riley said.

Around 99% of the university already has their COVID-19 shots. Professor Riley says the compliance has been excellent on UVA Grounds.

“I think it takes too narrow a view of what the law is,” Riley said.

She says she thinks the Attorney General is mistaken: “In his opinion, that unless the state legislature has mandated a COVID vaccine, that the state universities do not have the power to mandate such a vaccine because the state legislature hasn’t mandated a COVID vaccine so far.”

57th District Delegate Sally Hudson agrees it’s the long term, where we could see some impact, but not right now.

“That’s all the more reason that we know that this is not about keeping people safe,” Hudson said. “It’s about scoring political points.”

Hudson is not only a delegate, but also a professor at UVA.

“It’s long been a practice that for people enrolling in public education institutions, they have to get their vaccine so we can all keep each other safe,” Hudson said.

Both professors say they just hope COVID-19 cases are down, by the time new students can enroll.

“It’s really frustrating because we’ve been at this for a long time,” Hudson said. “And it’s long past time for everybody to come together and to start doing everything we can to put this all behind us.”

“If there is a variant that isn’t covered by the vaccines, or god forbid another infectious disease comes into our community, I guess I hope at that point the Attorney General will change his mind,” Riley said.

A spokesperson for UVA said the university is reviewing the opinion and would provide additional information once that review is complete.

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