Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
secretary
Health and Human Resources
Agency
Virginia Department of Health
Board
State Board of Health
Petition 352
Petition Information
Petition Title Vaccination Requirements for School Employees and Students
Date Filed 9/1/2021    [Transmittal Sheet]
Petitioner Kristen M. Calleja 
Petitioner's Request

I am writing to voice my request and sincere hope that the board will mandate vaccines for all school employees, with only medical exemptions allowed. Vaccines are already required for all state employees. In addition, vaccines should be required for all students for whom the vaccine has been fully approved, just as many other vaccines are mandated.

My 10th grade daughter and all other kids have sacrificed much over the past 18 months. They only have one childhood. They are finally back to in person school, but we are already seeing constant disruptions to education for far too many due to infections, possible infections based on symptoms, and mandatory quarantines.

My daughter and all other students should have a right to be able to attend school without being unnecessarily put at risk by other students and teachers who refuse to be vaccinated, and without constant disruptions to their education. And it sure would be great for them to be able to go to school without masks and without worrying about lunch and other unmasked times, as well as overcrowded busses. The irrational minority should not be dictating the public health policy for VA or the schools.

 
Agency's Plan

Upon publication of the Notice of Petition in the Virginia Register of Regulations, and upon completion of the 21-day public comment period, VDH will make a determination - within 90 days of the close of the public comment period - as to whether or not to grant the petition.

 
Comment Period Ended 10/17/2021
15200 comments
Agency Decision Take no action [Transmittal Sheet]    
Response Date 12/3/2021
Agency Decision Summary

On September 1, 2021, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) posted a Petition for Rulemaking (Petition) to Town Hall that was received from a resident of Virginia. The Petition contained two requests: 1) mandate vaccines for all school employees, with only medical exemptions allowed and 2) mandate the vaccine for all students for whom the vaccine has been fully approved. The Petition was posted for a 21 day public comment period and received 15,308 comments. The summary of those comments can be found below.

Table 1: Petition Comments by Opinion

Opinions

Total Comments

Percent Total

Unique IP*

Percent Unique

All

15,308

 

11,718

 

Against

14,301

93.42%

11,086

94.61%

For

847

5.53%

607

5.18%

Irrelevant

160

1.05%

106

0.90%

*Total of Opinions count is greater than total unique IPs because some IPs made multiple comments that were logged under different opinion categories.

Table 2: Petition Comments by Opinion and Categorization

Opinion

Categorization

Total Number of Comments

Total Number of Comments with Unique IP Addresses

Against

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Religious exemption is necessary

212

205

Religious exemption is necessary; unconstitutional

42

42

Should remain voluntary

8,058

6,503

Should remain voluntary; experimental

329

310

Should remain voluntary; religious exemption is necessary

606

567

Should remain voluntary; not enough data on safety and efficacy of vaccine

2,232

2,037

Should remain voluntary; unconstitutional

642

603

Should remain voluntary; not enough data on safety and efficacy of vaccine; religious exemption is necessary

101

101

Should remain voluntary; religious exemption is necessary; unconstitutional

27

27

Should remain voluntary; not enough data on safety and efficacy of vaccine; unconstitutional

37

37

Unconstitutional

127

123

Not enough data on safety and efficacy of vaccine

1,571

1,429

Not enough data on safety and efficacy of vaccine; religious exemption is necessary

150

146

Not enough data on safety and efficacy of vaccine; unconstitutional

159

158

Not enough data on safety and efficacy of vaccine; religious exemption is necessary; unconstitutional

8

8

For

 

 

 

 

Support with removal of all other mitigation measures

1

1

Supports for both staff and students

843

604

Supports for staff only

1

1

Supports requirement for employees

1

1

Supports with an option for socially distancing

1

1

Irrelevant

Does not pertain to the items in the petition

160

106

 

VDH does not currently have any vaccine mandates for school employees. For students, there are currently school required vaccine mandates for 15 different diseases.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends immunization schedules and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Family Physicians approve and/or adopt them. Each state determines its own laws to establish vaccination requirements for children attending daycare and school.

VDH reviewed the Commonwealth’s immunization requirements for school attendance and compared them to the recommendations set forth by ACIP. A description of the differences identified are shown in Table 3:

Table 3

Differences in Virginia Immunization Statutory Requirements and Recommendations from CDC/ACIP/AAP/AAFP

Vaccine

ACIP, CDC, AAP, and AAFP Recommendations

CDC Recommended Immunization Schedule

Virginia Requirements for School Attendance

Influenza

 

Routine vaccination annually for all children/adolescents age six (6) months and older. Children age six (6) months to eight (8) years who have not received two (2) doses of annual influenza vaccine before July 1, 2021 should receive two doses separated by four (4) weeks.

Routine vaccination annually for all children/adolescents age six (6) months and older. Children age six (6) months to eight (8) years who have not received two (2) doses of annual influenza vaccine before July 1, 2021 should receive two (2) doses separated by four (4) weeks.

Not required. 

COVID-19

All children 5 years of age and up are recommended to complete a full vaccine series. As of November 2, 2021 this includes two (2) doses of Pfizer mRNA 21 days apart.

COVID-19 has been added to the CDC immunization schedule webpage but not yet added to Table 1, Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger, United States, 2021.

 

 

Multiple factors influence decisions to require immunizations for school attendance including ACIP recommendations, fiscal considerations, feasibility of implementing the requirement(s), and administrative burdens that may be associated with such requirements.

With regard to the request to mandate vaccines for school employees, VDH does not have clear statutory authority to promulgate regulations for this population.

With regard to a mandate for students, § 32.1-46 of the Code of Virginia clearly provides statutory authority and VDH already promulgates the Regulations for the Immunization of School Children. However, VDH does not have statutory authority to remove the religious exemption.

At this time, all vaccines required by the Regulations for the Immunization of School Children are in alignment with recommendations from ACIP, CDC, AAP, and AAFP with the exception of influenza and COVID-19. VDH has determined that requiring influenza vaccine annually for all children for daycare and/or school attendance would have significant costs to VDH, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services and school systems and daycares. It would also be complex to implement a requirement for school attendance because the new annual vaccine typically does not become available until late August or September, coinciding with the start of the school year. COVID-19 has been added to the CDC immunization schedule webpage but not yet added to Table 1, Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger, United States, 2021.

With respect to the Petition, in light of the lack of clear statutory authority to implement vaccine mandates for school employees No Action is being taken as it relates to vaccine mandates school employees.

Also with respect to the Petition, given the continued administrative, logistical, and financial burdens related to influenza, and the COVID-19 vaccine not yet being added to the Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger, No Action is being taken as it relates to vaccine mandates for students. 

 


Contact Information
Name / Title: Kristin Collins  / Policy Analyst, Office of Epidemiology
Address: Virginia Department of Health
109 Governor Street
Richmond, 23219
Email Address: kristin.collins@vdh.virginia.gov
Telephone: (804)864-7298    FAX: (804)864-7022    TDD: ()-