“We know that the vaccine is the best protection against severe illness as a result of COVID-19.”
Gov. Glenn Youngkin has said he’s always been a “strong advocate” for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but upon taking office, one of the eleven executive orders that he signed on day one rescinded former Gov. Ralph Northam’s mandate that required state employees, including those who work at public colleges and universities in the commonwealth, to be vaccinated, or face regular testing if unvaccinated.
On Valentine’s Day, his office released a new public service announcement encouraging Virginians to get their COVID-19 vaccine. In it, he says “I have made the choice to get vaccinated and encourage everyone to join me in doing that, but ultimately it is a personal decision to do so.”
Even before taking office, he advocated for the vaccine, asking residents to join him in getting the shot. By doing so, he tried to appeal to more moderate voters who were in favor of attempting to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Youngkin even made sure to let the public know not only about his vaccination status, but about his family’s as well.
Taking an opposite stance from Democrats, Youngkin does not believe that COVID-19 vaccine mandates should be in place, opting for people to have the choice to get vaccinated or not. Despite that, he does advocate for other vaccine mandates to stay in place, such as those for childhood diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella.
In his COVID-19 Action Plan, he said his administration would “empower Virginians with choices, not mandates.” The plan also reports data showing people who get the vaccine are four times less likely than people who are not vaccinated.
In the Youngkin administration, Dr. Marty Makary, a neurosurgeon, sits at the helm of Youngkin’s COVID-19 response team. Makary does not believe vaccine mandates should be in place for the COVID-19 vaccine. He has said he is “pro-vaccine, but blanket requirements outside of health care go too far.”
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, he also said “emerging science suggests that natural immunity is as good as or better than vaccine-induced immunity.”
There are varying vaccination rates across the commonwealth, with more rural parts on the southwest side of the state having lower vaccination rates than more populous places like Richmond or Northern Virginia.