Your turn — Let’s talk about the CDC and COVID-19 vaccines

Published 3:08 pm Saturday, October 29, 2022

Late last week an advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention voted unanimously to add the COVID vaccine to the Federal government’s “Vaccines for Kids” program. Despite reports to the contrary, the vote will not make the vaccine mandatory for Virginia students. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 15-0 Thursday to add the vaccine to the CDC’s schedule once it becomes commercialized, likely in the summer of 2023.

That schedule is related to federal funding for childhood vaccines, not the mandated vaccines for school entry. While Virginia law does track Federal laws in some instances, it does not do so on vaccine requirements. To add the COVID shot to Virginia’s list of mandated vaccinations, either the General Assembly would have to pass legislation into law, or the Virginia Board of Health would have to go through the standard rule-making process. The board failed to act on a petition of this nature last year defeating a last gasp effort by Virginia democrats to mandate vaccines for school children in the commonwealth.

I expect any such proposal mandating vaccines would meet a fast demise in the republican led House of Delegates. The bottom line is parents deserve to have the discretion to make major healthcare decisions for their minor children, not the department of health and certainly not the CDC. Republicans have listened to Virginia parents when they have spoken out against mask mandates, when they spoke out against their children being exposed to explicit content in the classroom, when they rejected mandates on untested vaccines, and we are still listening!

VIRGINIA’S REPORT CARD

On October 24, the 2022 National Assessment of Education Progress data for Virginia was released, showing catastrophic learning loss. The study assessed a representative sample of 4th and 8th grade students in each state. Since 2017, the data for Virginia shows a more than 13 point loss in 4th grade reading and a 12 point decline in 4th grade mathematics. These two declines are nearly three times the national average for learning loss, and for the first time in nearly 30 years, 4th grade students in Virginia are in many cases just at or below the national averages. In 2017 the Virginia DOE began relaxing school accreditation standards and in 2019 and 2020 lowered their expectations in math and reading.

MY TAKE

Virginia parents were right to be concerned about school performance, republicans saw this coming long before the pandemic shuttered schools and locked children down at home. We are just now seeing the true picture of the impact Ralph Northam’s liberal policies had on Virginia students. I am very concerned about the long-term effects this learning loss will have on students as many of them continue their education into colleges, universities, or trade schools. For Virginia to build the workforce we are going to need in five to ten years and beyond we must correct our trajectory.

We must reverse the deficiencies in math and reading and improve our education system as a whole. As your delegate I remain committed to working with Governor Youngkin and republican leadership in the House of Delegates to fix what’s broken and invest in Virginia students in a meaningful way. Parents can count on House republicans to remain steadfast against government overreach and promote parental input and involvement in the decisions that affect their children.

ELECTION UPDATE

In upcoming election news, Oct. 17 marked the 290th day of the year, leaving only 75 left. The 17th also marks 20 days until the end of early voting in Virginia and 23 days until the polls open for Election Day. With a monumental midterm federal election approaching on Tuesday, Nov. 8, I hope everyone who is so inclined will go out and vote.

If you intend to vote via mail in absentee ballot; you must request mail-in absentee ballots by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28. You may currently vote early in-person at your local registrar’s office. Early in-person voting ends at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5.

DEL. C. MATTHEW FARISS represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.