Source: AP Photo/Steve Helber, File.
By Leah Barkoukis
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares issued a legal opinion this week addressing the issue of vaccine mandates at state institutions of higher education.
The issue at hand was whether or not in-state colleges and universities could require the vaccine “as a general condition of enrollment or in-person attendance.”
“A prior Opinion of this office…concluded that the ‘broad specific and implied discretion’ granted to institutions of higher education in § 23.1-1301 and other statutes contained in Chapter 13 of Title 23.1 permitted public institutions of higher education to condition in-person attendance on receipt of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. That opinion, however, failed to consider § 23.1-800,” a statement from the attorney general’s office said.
“As recognized in the prior opinion, ‘[t]here is no question that the General Assembly could enact a statute requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for in-person school attendance.’ As of this writing, it has not done so. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Assembly has amended other statues to address pandemic-related issues,” the statement continued.
While public institutions of higher education assisted health departments in administering the vaccine, “the legislation did not grant such institutions power to impose vaccine requirements.”
Miyares concluded that without the authority to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine from the General Assembly, Virginia colleges and universities cannot make the jab a condition of enrollment or in-person attendance.
Virginia Attorney General opinion: public universities cannot require Covid 19 vaccines for in-person attendance. pic.twitter.com/oLL5qGrdPs
— Marina Medvin (@MarinaMedvin) January 28, 2022