Virginia will require state employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine or undergo regular testing, Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Thursday.
The order will take effect on Sept. 1 and will affect over 120,000 employees in the executive branch, according to the press release.
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“The only way to end this pandemic is for everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” Northam, a Democrat, said in the release. “As head of state government, we have a responsibility to lead by example and ensure the safety of our employees and the people they serve.”
“The three vaccines are safe, effective, free, and widely available, and I strongly urge every eligible Virginian to get their shot,” the governor continued. “The time for waiting is over.”
“Our valued state employees are dedicated to public service, and I am confident they want to do what is necessary to keep themselves, their co-workers, and the public safe,” said Secretary of Administration Grindly Johnson, who oversees the Department of Human Resource Management.
The order will be in effect indefinitely until it’s canceled.
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According to the release, the Virginia program is in alignment with President Biden’s requirement for federal workers to be vaccinated.
Biden announced the move last week, requiring federal workers to sign forms saying they’ve been vaccinated or be subject to COVID-19 provisions, such as mandatory masks and weekly viral testing.