In Richmond, a COVID-19 Mandate is Not Being Ruled Out
On April 18th, Virginia opened up vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older with the expectation that it could take a few weeks for every adult who wanted one to make an appointment. However, now in any part of the state, you should be able to get an appointment within a day or two and in some cases the same day. Despite having vaccines widely available, many Virginians are refusing to be vaccinated and another 160,000 haven't received their second shot.
Because of the hesitancy, Virginia has not ruled out a vaccine mandate and even vaccine passports to incentivize more people to receive their life-saving COVID-19 vaccinations. However, Doctor Danny Avula has said that the prospect of this would be very far in the future, if at all.
Doctor Danny Avula explained, “If our ability to move forward as a society, to open back up businesses, to open back up schools is contingent on this, then I think we find every way we can to incentivize it and potentially even get to a point where we require it, but I think we’re a long way from that."
According to ABC8 News, "Dr. Avula said a mandate would “probably not” be seriously considered at the state level until the federal government fully approves one of the vaccines. Right now, they’re only authorized for emergency use. Dr. Avula said a mandate would become more likely if new variants take hold and hesitancy persists.
“If we do have a scenario where we have disease raging, we have new variants and we still have a significant resistant portion of the population then I think a mandate isn’t out of the question,” Dr. Avula said. “I do see a scenario where, maybe we haven’t gotten to that 75% goal of herd immunity, but case rates are so low that we can feel good and confident about opening back up.”
Meanwhile, Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam’s administration is weighing the value of “vaccine certifications” to incentive immunizations.
According to ABC8 News, "Earlier this week, Attorney General Mark Herring released an advisory opinion saying the state’s colleges and universities can require students to get the vaccine before being allowed to attend classes. He also noted that schools should be prepared to make accommodations for religious reasons."
It's too soon to know what exactly will happen but according to state officials, there will be lots of conversations happening over the summer about possible vaccine mandates including mandates that will require vaccines for K-12 schools if a vaccine is approved for children under the age of 16.
It is important to note that getting the COVID-19 vaccine not only protects yourself and others from getting and transferring COVID-19 but also from COVID-19 mutations and variants from spreading. Thus, the importance of getting the COVD-19 vaccine is more important now than ever, especially with so many vaccines being widely available.
If you are a resident of Virginia, you can get the vaccine within 1-2 days, with some people even being able to get their vaccine the same day as they register. Please check Vaccine Finder to get your vaccine today.