NORFOLK, Va - As several colleges and universities around the country have announced they will require students to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued a statement saying that Virginia colleges have the authority to require students, faculty and staff to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
So far, Hampton University and Virginia Wesleyan University are the only two local colleges requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, with exemptions for medical or religious reasons. Virginia Wesleyan University announced Tuesday that students must get the vaccine before returning to campus for the fall semester. At Hampton University, students must also get the vaccine before returning to campus for the fall semester, and staff must get the vaccine by May 31.
In the statement, Herring says there are various authorities in Virginia law that require vaccines for certain events and goes on to say Virginia colleges may take steps to protect the health and welfare of students by requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.
Regent University’s vice president of academic affairs says the university hasn’t made the vaccine a requirement and will continue to listen to officials.
“The last year, COVID-19 has been sort of a rollercoaster. We’ve been watching the CDC very carefully and guidelines for the Commonwealth, and we have not issued any policies requiring the vaccine at this moment. As you can imagine for us, safety first. We’re weighing that option and speaking to medical teams as well, and we’ll see what happens," said Gerson Moreno Riano, Regent University's Vice President for Academic Affairs.
An Old Dominion University spokesperson released a statement saying the university strongly encourages students and employees to get the vaccine.
At Norfolk State University, a spokesperson also released a statement saying the university has not reached a decision regarding a vaccine requirement and is relying on guidance from health officials and data before a formal decision is made.
A Thomas Nelson Community College spokesperson released a statement saying the college is not mandating vaccines and is considering all official health guidance to maintain the safety of the community.