RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia state colleges and universities cannot require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, under a legal opinion issued Friday by Virginia’s new Republican attorney general.
Attorney General Jason Miyares found that because the state legislature has not passed legislation specifically mandating coronavirus vaccines for students, colleges and universities lack the authority to require them.
State lawmakers ‘specifically allowed’ colleges and universities to help health officials administer vaccines, but they ‘did not grant those institutions the authority to impose vaccine requirements Miyares wrote in a letter to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who asked for an advisory opinion on the issue.
“I conclude that in the absence of specific authority granted by the General Assembly, public institutions of higher education in Virginia cannot require vaccination against COVID-19 as a general condition of enrollment or attendance in no one from the students,” Miyares wrote.
Many public colleges and universities in Virginia have required students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, including Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and University of Mary Washington.
At least six public colleges dropped their employee vaccine requirements after Youngkin issued an executive order repealing the vaccination mandate for employees of state government agencies.
Youngkin and Miyares both took office Jan. 15 after a Republican wave in the November election that also gave the GOP a majority in the state House of Delegates.
On his first day in office, Youngkin issued an executive order allowing parents to opt out of school mask mandates for their children. This order is disputed in two lawsuits, one brought by a group of parents and the other by seven school boards.
A Friday press release from his office said Miyares is vaccinated and boosted and “encourages everyone to get vaccinated.”
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
Sign up now to get the latest coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news delivered to your inbox daily.