Gov. Glenn Youngkin: Virginia 'Will Not Adhere' After CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Vote

Gov. Glenn Youngkin: Virginia 'Will Not Adhere' After CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Vote
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks in a file photograph. (Steve Helber/AP Photo)
Jack Phillips

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said the decision to give COVID-19 vaccines to children should be the responsibility of parents, not schools.

The Republican governor was responding to a Thursday vote by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel to recommend the CDC add COVID-19 vaccines to children’s immunization schedules.
“COVID-19 mandates should be in our rearview mirror,” Youngkin wrote late on Thursday. “The decision to vaccinate a child against COVID-19 is for Virginia parents to make about what’s best for them and their family. We will not adhere to these @CDCgov mandates.”

“In Virginia, parents matter,” he added.

Advisers to the CDC voted on Oct. 20 to recommend including the COVID-19 vaccines on the next version of the child and adolescent immunization schedules, which will be published in early 2023. The CDC still has to adopt the recommendation, but the agency has been aggressively pro-vaccine since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Studies and data have shown that children have the lowest risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, hospitalization, or death. Meanwhile, more than 20 states have already prohibited COVID-19 shots from being mandated for students to attend school, according to the National Academy of State Health Policy.

While the CDC doesn't have the power to mandate what vaccines are given to children, some school districts and states could require them to attend schools or even preschools.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf noted on Twitter, “We need to be clear that the benefits outweigh the risk of vaccination, but mandates are not the remit of either CDC or FDA.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, also a Republican, echoed Youngkin's sentiment on social media—as did other Republicans, including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota

“I’ve always said mandates are the wrong approach and Tennessee has led in pushing back on federal COVID vaccine requirements,” Lee said on Twitter. “Thanks to our work with the General Assembly, Tennessee families won’t be impacted by today’s CDC vote. We’ll continue to stand for Tennessee children and for personal freedom."

"I know a lot of parents are concerned about that," DeSantis said during a news conference Thursday in Fort Meyers. "As long as I am kicking and screaming, there will be no COVID shot mandates for your kids. That is your decision to make as a parent."

Last week, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has said that he does not recommend COVID-19 vaccines for children under the age of 18. Citing a state-backed analysis, Ladapo also said he doesn't recommend mRNA COVID-19 shots for males aged 18 to 39.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.