COVID-19 Vaccine Generic Pfizer Bottle

Fort Belvoir Community Hospital sets up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Community Center. 

A petition to mandate coronavirus vaccines for all eligible students and staff in Virginia schools has accumulated nearly 6,000 comments online — setting a record for the Virginia Department of Health’s typically sleepy regulatory process.

The request was submitted last month as a public petition to the Virginia Board of Health. Under state law, any resident can ask an agency to craft new regulations, according to Joseph Hilbert, VDH’s deputy commissioner for governmental and regulatory affairs. 

But amid ongoing debates over requiring COVID-19 immunizations for students — both in Virginia and across the country — the public petition process presents a unique way for concerned parents to make their case. The Virginia Department of Health must consider the request, even as state leaders appear reluctant to broach the issue.

Gov. Ralph Northam has so far been hesitant to implement a statewide requirement, saying it’s a decision that would have to be passed by the General Assembly. James Lane, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, shares the same view. So far, California remains the only state to mandate the vaccines for all K-12 students, both in public and private schools. 

“We’re in the process now of determining whether we’re going to grant this petition,” Hilbert said. “Honestly, we don’t get a whole lot of them. And this one is a record-setter as far as the comments we’ve received.”

The request was filed on Sept. 1, and the period for public comment ends Oct. 17. After that, the Virginia Department of Health has 90 days to issue a decision on whether or not to accept it — a process that involves reviewing all 5,992 comments (most strongly in opposition to a potential requirement) currently submitted online.

“At this point, I’d be willing to bet that we’ll probably get many, many more,” Hilbert said. If the department granted the petition, it would kick off the process of crafting new regulations and determining how to implement the requirements statewide,

The petition specifically calls for the department to mandate COVID-19 vaccines both for all eligible students and for all eligible school employees, with only medical exemptions permitted. The petitioner, listed as Kristen Calleja, wrote that her 10th-grade daughter “and all other kids have sacrificed much over the past 18 months.” But with the school year already disrupted by infections and quarantines, she wrote, vaccine requirements are one of the only ways to ensure safe attendance.

“My daughter and all other students should have a right to be able to attend school without being unnecessarily put at risk by other students and teachers who refuse to be vaccinated,” Calleja said. “The irrational minority should not be dictating the public health policy for Virginia or the schools.” Attempts to reach Calleja for comment were unsuccessful. 

Petitioning for the state to change its school immunization requirements through regulations, rather than legislation, is largely unprecedented. A 2020 law that updated Virginia’s school immunization requirements did include language allowing the Board of Health to fast-track changes or additions to the schedule. But it’s still not entirely clear whether the department can require COVID-19 vaccines for students without approval by the state legislature.

“There’s a lot of overlap in the child immunization requirements between what’s in the code and what’s in our regulations,” Hilbert said. “But we would definitely work closely with the administration in making a determination on this petition.”

Northam’s spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky, pointed out that additions to Virginia’s immunization code have “historically” been decided by the General Assembly.

“Governor Northam thinks that’s appropriate,” she said. “We are still a long way from that point, as you know, since the COVID-19 vaccine has not yet been approved for children 5-12. Right now the governor is focused on our upcoming major effort to vaccinate children once FDA approves it for emergency use.”

Children 12 and older are currently eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, and the company asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize the shots for 5- to 11-year-olds on Thursday. That raises the possibility they’ll become available for younger children within the next few weeks. 

Children appear less vulnerable than adults to severe cases of COVID-19, but the rise of the delta variant led to an increase in childhood cases and hospitalizations. As a result, public health experts widely recommend vaccinating children to curb the spread of disease and reduce the risk of more serious infections. 

Vaccinating adults is also one of the best ways of protecting children from the disease.

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Robert Zullo for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.


(15) comments

Robert Thomas

And of the comments submitted, what are the results if you bother looking. For every "yes" to the regs there are 10 "no". That's pretty obvious no one wants this for kinds except for the very stupid. What did for former Baylor and Texas A&M doc just say, a guy with credentials that puts him in the tier 1 class of M.D's/PhDs..."Dr. Peter McCullough issues a warning on therapeutic nihilism and untested vaccines, or an unbelievable atrocity is occurring. That was in front of packed audience.

This is not about health anymore, and maybe, never was.

There is no effing justification for any damn lab rat one size fits all solution that has never met high baselines for safety, efficacy , safety and durability. Animal testing was bypassed, you're the lab rat.

It is, in fact, the opposite of precision medicine made real or calibrated solutions delivered to an individuals biological risk profile.

You ignore natural immunity.

This transgenic injection which is sold as a vaccine (never met the legal definition) is effing dangerous as witnesses’ across the interconnected globe tell their stories by the second of first-hand injury\death, both or which are going parabolic.

The medical establishment is permanently damaged as their reputation(s) will never be recoverable. Establishment doctors reputations are permantly and irrevocably damaged, with rare exception.

BigPharma is complicit in mass murder and mass worldwide injury!

The C-Suite (top-management) need be prosecuted, and locked-up.

Virginia’s Biosafety Lab (highest level) could not demonstrate with evidence in a FOIA that an isolate of human- to- human transmission of CoV2 exists. So too 100+ other Biosafety labs and regulatory bodies across the globe.

The FOIA response I received back from the VA State agency a request for information (RFI) was and is non-responsive.

Jerzy Brick

Be prepared for all the insults from the walking dead on this forum!

Right, its not a vaccine. People need to accept that. Why not treat a virus with anti-virals....Very simple, or better yet, DRACCO.



Because it saves lives.


Brandi Day

According to the FDA's own FAQs regarding the Pfizer vaccine, it does not stop the spread of the virus. Therefore, mandating vaccination has no impact on anyone but the person vaccinated. The CDC has also done a study that shows the vaccine does not prevent the spread of the disease even though their website now talks around this information as it does not support the narrative.

In addition, if you read the FDA's approval letter for the vaccine, they are requiring significantly more testing be done regarding the safety of it for children and pregnant women even though they are grant authorization for it now. That testing will not be complete for several years. How can we mandate a vaccine that even the authorizing agency knows still needs to be better tested? Every child who is forced to get vaccinated and then suffers an adverse reaction should sue the person who posted this petition and everyone who had a hand in authorizing the mandate.

Please note: I wasn't able to post links to sources as it was identified as "spam" if I did so.

Kermit Robat

The idea of VA schools mandating the covid vaccine for children is premature at best. None of the available vaccines have been authorized for children under 12 for regular or emergency use. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children 12 - 15 only under emergency use with the vaccine being approved for regular use for 16+. There is no timetable for when a vaccine would be available for children under 5, if ever.

I am aware of no prior instance in US history where a vaccine under emergency use authorization has been mandated. Ever. Whether or not the governor or general assembly has the authority, doing so would simply be without precedent.

And there is no public health need for such an unprecedented action. As I have written elsewhere, as of last Wednesday a grand total of 499 children (age < 18) have died from covid in the US going back to the start of the pandemic. That’s a cohort of 73 million children and we’ve been at this for 20 months now. In Virginia fewer than 10 children have died from covid. In the past 9 months 381 fully vaccinated adults have died from covid in Virginia. It is literally the case that a healthy unvaccinated child is less likely to die from covid than their fully vaccinated parents or grandparents. These assertions are validated by the VA state statistics and the CDC stats to which I provide links below.

Even California, the lone state in the nation to mandate the vaccine, only does so after it receives full use authorization from the CDC.

John Dutko

List of EUA and treatments:

Joe Christmas

Such a mandate is not going to fly. The COVID vaccine is different than traditional vaccines. It's not just some dead virus in the jab. Plus, kids getting very sick from COVID is extremely rare and the death numbers are miniscule. I certainly know that I'm not giving my kids the jab. I'll take it, fine. But my kids, no way.

Larry Lyons

You might want to check that Reputable sources, like the John Hopkins COVID dashboard and the CDC disagree.

Larry Lyons

Yes you follow the requirements for kids to get vaccinated for polio or the mumps, as well as 9 other vaccines. What's the difference aside from ideological hypocrisy?

Duke Nukem

How often are they going to have to get the shot? Yearly or more often than that? What size heart do you like young boys to have and how many shots to achieve that? Some may have natural immunity which provides better protection, why inject the poison into your body again if you already have natural immunity? Why isn't the seasonal flu shot mandated then? That one sure has less side effects than the covid-19 shot from my experience.

John Dutko

Here we go:

The virus affect people. People of all ages. People are vectors. Some vectors spread diseases better than others.

Children are vectors. They are not immune from spreading any disease.

If they children were vaccinated, they would mitigate the spread, as it is based on viral load. If exposed to a large amount (for a vaccinated person) the resulting infection and symptoms would be lessened. If exposed (for an unvaccinated person) they roll the dice, BUT are still transmissible.

So you are telling us that you do not care if your children get sick, and if they do, whether they die or not. And you certainly do not care if they spread the virus wherever they go.

Janet Smith

Did Ralph Northam MD (who is a Pediatrician) take no position on the chickenpox and HPV vaccines when they were approved by the FDA? Ridiculous. He's going to be out of office in 3 months. Why play politics now?

John Dutko

From the article:

"Northam’s spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky, pointed out that additions to Virginia’s immunization code have “historically” been decided by the General Assembly.

“Governor Northam thinks that’s appropriate,” she said. “We are still a long way from that point, as you know, since the COVID-19 vaccine has not yet been approved for children 5-12. Right now the governor is focused on our upcoming major effort to vaccinate children once FDA approves it for emergency use.”"

Why... would he take a stance on something that has become the norm?

Here are the Virginian immunization requirements for students:

Here is the specific part about chickenpox:

Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccine - All children born on and after January 1, 1997, shall be required to have one dose of chickenpox vaccine administered at age 12 months or older. Effective March 3, 2010, a second dose must be administered prior to entering kindergarten but can be administered at any time after the minimum interval between dose 1 and dose 2.

There shouldn't be any confusion regarding historically sound immunization efforts.

Larry Lyons

What politics. He's already said he's in favour of kids being vaccinated for COVID.

Duke Nukem

Why is he waiting? He has a pen and a phone too. They locked down the state last year. More deaths this year than last even with the vaccines. Why hasn't he locked us down again? Is he waiting for another state to do it first? Is he waiting for Biden's handlers to give the thumbs up?

Jane Woodson

I don't understand this. 6,000 comments? What's the signature count? A majority of comments opposed to the content of the petition? This doesn't make any sense.

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