On Friday, August 21, 2020, the state health commissioner said in an interview that when a COVID-19 vaccination becomes available, he intends to mandate that every Virginian to be immunized. Under current law, the commissioner can even override religious exemptions from vaccination.

While homeschool families might not be impacted by a public school’s decision to exclude an unvaccinated homeschooled child from attending, there is no doubt that homeschooled children—regardless of which option they are being homeschooled under—are required to comply with vaccination requirements.

Current law empowers a school division superintendent to demand proof that a homeschool family has complied with immunization requirements. If the commissioner orders COVID-19 vaccination, we expect some division superintendents to become aggressive in requiring this proof. Violation of these demands would be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, and could lead to serious legal consequences.

Although Governor Northam’s spokesperson was quick to clarify that the governor is not planning on mandating a vaccine, it is important to note that under Virginia law, the state health commissioner has the authority to order vaccinations in response to an epidemic or other public health crisis.

What You Can Do

On August 14, a bill was filed that would require the commissioner to honor religious exemptions from vaccination. Our thanks to Delegate Mark Cole for filing the bill.

Home School Legal Defense Association believes that parents, who know and love their children more than any government official ever could, are best suited for making preventive health decisions for their families. This includes immunizations. Delegate Cole’s bill will protect this right by correcting the current law’s failure to respect religious exemptions.

Our friends at Home Educators Association of Virginia have also highlighted the importance of the bill.

Our other friends at the Virginia Family Foundation are urging parents to support the enactment of the bill. Read here for details and to find out how you can help and get timely updates on this quickly changing situation.