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Virginia Considering Vaccine Passports and Mandate if Hesitancy Persists

(WRIC) — A COVID-19 vaccine mandate is not being ruled out in Virginia but it won’t happen in the near future, if at all. That’s according to the state’s Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula, who spoke to 8News via Zoom on Thursday.

In the meantime, Dr. Avula said the use of so-called “vaccine passports” or certifications are a more likely solution for skepticism.

“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,” Dr. Avula said.

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, Dr. Avula said Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration is weighing the value of “vaccine certifications” to incentive immunizations.

The idea has gotten harsh feedback, notably from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed an executive order banning any government entity or private business from using them.

“On one hand, we recognize it could be seen as a requirement that is not welcome by the population and that it is an infringement of individual rights,” Dr. Avula said. “On the other hand, it may allow us to move towards reopening more quickly.”

Dr. Avula said no concrete decisions have been made in Virginia but he noted certifications are already being required for entry into certain events in other states. Read Full Article >

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