VDH explains why officials did not act on petition to mandate COVID-19 vaccines in schools

With more than 15,000 public comments, the agency decided not to act

The Virginia Department of Health recently decided not to take action on a petition requiring vaccines in schools.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Virginia’s Department of Health (VDH) released results this week on a September petition to mandate vaccines for all school employees and students — including COVID-19 vaccines.

With more than 15,000 public comments, the agency decided not to act on the petition.

Dr. Laurie Forlano is with VDH and says one reason is because of their authority.

[Virginia Department of Health won’t mandate COVID-19 vaccines in public schools following petition]

“VDH does not have any authority to implement requirements for vaccines for employees. So, that was a pretty clear-cut decision,” said Dr. Forlano.

As for students, VDH relies on CDC recommendations for when vaccines should be received and at what age.

“It has not yet been added officially to CDC’s child and adolescent immunization schedule. They do that, as I understand it, at meetings that are already prescheduled during the year. So, that question hasn’t been considered yet by them, and they haven’t yet added it to the immunization schedule,” said Dr. Forlano.

Another reason for the decision not to act on the petition is because VDH says the petition did not specify which vaccine. The request simply asked to “mandate vaccines.”

Dr. Forlano is encouraging people to get the COVID-19 shots.

“With the emergence of the omicron variant, the upcoming holiday season when we get together with family and travel, please consider getting vaccinated if you haven’t already.”

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.