Virginia AG Miyares: Universities Cannot Mandate the Coronavirus Vaccine for Students

Virginia Republican Lt. Governor candidate Jason Miyares addresses the Virginia FREE Leadership Luncheon in McLean, Virginia., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.
Cliff Owen/AP

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) Friday issued the first legal opinion of his tenure, deciding that the Commonwealth’s public colleges and universities cannot make receiving the coronavirus vaccine a condition for enrollment or in-person attendance.

Writing in response to a request for an advisory opinion from Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Miyares determined that public institutions of higher education did not have the authority to issue such a mandate without an express order from the General Assembly.

While Virginia law does require specific vaccines for public university attendance — such as diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles (rubeola), German measles (rubella), and mumps — Miyares made clear that a general grant of authority for such institutions to “assist the Department of Health and local health departments in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine” does “not grant such institutions power to impose vaccine requirements.”

Many Virginia public colleges and universities have mandated coronavirus vaccinations as a condition for enrollment and in-person class attendance, including the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), and the University of Mary Washington.

“Boards of visitors may not exercise an implied power to require a certain vaccine when a specific statute governing vaccination excludes it,” Miyares wrote.

On his first day in office, Youngkin issued an executive order rescinding the requirement that government employees be vaccinated, prompting at least six intuitions of higher education to drop their vaccine mandate.

Youngkin also signed an executive order making masks optional in K-12 public schools, which is being challenged in court both by a group of parents and by seven school districts.

Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.

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