Virginia House bill would allow some to opt-out of the COVID-19 vaccine

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/WFXR) — A bill, still alive in the Virginia House of Delegates, would allow parents or guardians the right to reject a COVID-19 vaccine for their child — based on their religious beliefs.

“There should be the ability to have choice,” said Dr. Patricia Powers, a Virginia pediatrician.

Powers and other supporters of the bill say Americans have a constitutional right to make their own health care decisions.

“If you think about how this country was founded it was founded by people who were looking for religious freedom” Powers said.

The measure allows for exemptions to getting the COVID-19 vaccine if it conflicts with religious tenets or practices.

The bill also has support from a group known as the Virginia Freedom Keepers.

“It gives each Virginian the right to make the choice for themselves what’s best for their family,” said Marsha Lessard, the founder of the Virginia Freedom Keepers.

Current law gives the Virginia Health Commissioner the authority to issue a mandate for a vaccine in the case of an epidemic like COVID-19.  

During a hearing for two similar bills in the senate, Commissioner Norm Oliver told lawmakers the state is highly opposed to such a measure. He says lives are on the line.

“Virginia really needs to maintain the ability to ensure a significant number of people are vaccinated to stop the spread of communicable diseases,” Oliver said.

However, Powers argues some of the ingredients in the vaccines can conflict with religious dietary restrictions.

“Some of these vaccines are actually made using cell lines derived from aborted fetal parts.”

Others may contain animal parts.

“These are healthcare choices about liability free products with inherit risks and those choices need to be deeply considered and made in a private setting with a physician not with legislature,” Lessard said.

The two similar bills on the Senate side were voted down in committee.

The group feels they have more support in the House.

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