Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has said he’s opposed to mandates, including COVID-19 vaccine mandates. However, many current vaccine mandates are federally-ordered, including a mandate for all members of the Armed Forces on active duty, or in ready reserve, including the National Guard.
Some Republican governors are testing their power to defy the order. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt appointed a new adjutant general of that state’s national guard after the previous adjutant general ignored Stitt’s request to fight the mandate. Last week, the new adjutant general said no Oklahoma Guardsmen who are not federally mobilized would have to take the vaccine.
When asked if Youngkin would act to exempt Virginia Guardsmen from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, Youngkin’s press staff pointed to a comment he made at the first gubernatorial debate.
“I have been a strong, strong advocate for everyone to get the vaccine. I do believe that individuals should be allowed to make that decision on their own. But that’s why I launched a public service announcement to encourage people to get the vaccine. I believe that right now, we face a real difference between my opponent and me. Although just five weeks ago, he was pretty much in my same position, encouraging businesses to in fact make their own decision. But he changed that position, I think when it became politically expedient,” Youngkin said according to a WTVR transcript.
He continued, “I think what we need to do right now is make sure that everyone in Virginia understands that getting the vaccine is the most important thing we can do. That’s why I invited Terry to actually do a PSA with me. So we can encourage all Virginians to get the vaccine. When I’m leading Virginia, we’re going to make sure that Virginians understand the best way to keep themselves healthy. We’re going to provide all the best information. And we’re going to encourage Virginians to take that.”
Youngkin’s staff declined to comment specifically about an exemption for the Virginia National Guard.
Current Governor Ralph Northam’s staff did not return a request for comment.
Virginia National Guard Chief of Public Affairs A. A. “Cotton” Puryear said, “The Virginia National Guard will comply with the Department of Defense COVID-19 vaccine guidance.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Glenn Youngkin” by Glenn Youngkin. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “The National Guard” by The National Guard. CC BY 2.0.