June Leffler Published

Gov. Justice Asks W.Va. Lawmakers For COVID-19 Vaccine Exemptions

Gov. Jim Justice is asking state lawmakers to weigh in on the COVID-19 vaccine, and to what extent businesses and schools can require it.

West Virginia lawmakers are considering a host of bills introduced by the governor this week. One bill would mandate any employer who requires employees to get vaccinated must allow for religious or medical exemptions.

State legislators, at work this week in special session, will ultimately decide on the details, and if the bill is adopted. The Senate and House now have their own versions.

Justice explained his rationale at his Wednesday COVID-19 press briefing.

“I have stood rock solid that I am totally against these mandates, but truly I stand by the rights of our private businesses,” Justice said.

Hospitals have taken the lead in requiring vaccination of employees. WVU Medicine came out against the governor’s bill, saying it would “derail their efforts to protect their employees and the broader public.”

An earlier version of the bill also banned any school from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine. West Virginia has some of the strictest immunization requirements for school children, something applauded by public health practitioners.

Justice thinks the COVID-19 vaccine is still too new to mandate, unlike the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine children must take.

“[MMR has] weathered the test of time,” Justice said.