Virginia’s Health Commissioner says he plans to mandate that all Virginians take a COVID-19 vaccine once one is available to the public.
“It is killing people now, we don’t have a treatment for it and if we develop a vaccine that can prevent it from spreading in the community we will save hundreds and hundreds of lives,” Dr. Norman Oliver told 8News on Friday.
Virginia state law gives the Commissioner of Health “the authority to mandate immediate immunizations during a public health crisis if a vaccine is available. Health officials say an immunization could be released as early as 2021,” 8News said. “Dr. Oliver says that, as long as he is still the Health Commissioner, he intends to mandate the coronavirus vaccine.”
Under state law in Virginia, people with a medical exemption are the only ones allowed to refuse the mandatory vaccine. The Virginia General Assembly is currently considering a bill during an ongoing special session that “eliminates the authority of the Commissioner of Health to require immunization of individuals who object to such administration on religious grounds.” The bill first needs to make it out of a committee in the House of Delegates, controlled by Democrats, before the full chamber will vote.
“Oliver says he strongly opposes the bill. He doesn’t know what the punishment would be for non-compliance but expects that most people will respond well to the mandate,” 8News reported.
Virginia Freedom Keepers Director of Communications Kathleen Medaries is supporting the bill, known as HB5016.
“Over 5,000 Virginians in just the last 24 hours have asked how they can support HB5016 following the Virginia State Health Commissioner’s statement to ABC 8News Friday that he plans to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for Virginians once one is made available to the public,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Current Virginia Law gives him that power, but HB5016 proposes an amendment for each Virginian to choose for themself whether to take, delay or decline the shot without penalty.”
Join Marsha Lessard, Founder of Virginia Freedom Keepers, and Virginians across all political platforms and spheres of belief to learn the practical steps you can take to say “my body, my choice” on who calls these shots. As VFK Director and concerned Virginia mother of three, Kathleen Medaries, told ABC 8News “(The Commissioner) shouldn’t be the one person to make a decision for all Virginians. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s not a pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine issue. It’s an issue of being able to assess each vaccine for myself and my family one at a time.”
This sentiment rings true with many as, according to a new Marist poll, one in three Americans aren’t interested in getting a coronavirus vaccine and up to 50% have stated their hesitancy in making a decision until more information becomes available. If you’re ready to protect your right to choose, please check out our answers to your questions and use these practical steps.