Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe has put the issue of COVID mandates front and center during the homestretch of the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election. As the Washington Post Fact Checker reported earlier this week, McAuliffe has been exaggerating the threat that COVID poses to children.
But even as McAuliffe hits his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin for opposing statewide mask and vaccine mandates, the Democratic candidate’s campaign won’t say if McAuliffe would require children between the ages of 5 and 11 to get the COVID vaccine in order to attend school in Virginia.
During the first Virginia gubernatorial debate, McAuliffe said he would “absolutely” require children ages 12 and up to be vaccinated in order to attend school, and he suggested the only reason he wouldn’t support the mandate for kids under 12 is that the FDA hadn’t yet “done the analysis.”
SUSAN PAGE: So, yes or no, would you add COVID to the list of required vaccines for students in Virginia?
MCAULIFFE: Well, above the age of 12. We don’t know—the FDA has not done the analysis for under 12—so we couldn’t do that. But I want everybody to be vaccinated.
SUSAN PAGE: So for students above the age of 12, would you support adding to COVID vaccine as a requirement—as a state requirement?
MCAULIFFE: Absolutely. You bet I would. I want everybody vaccinated. This COVID is not going away.
In August, the FDA fully approved the vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older, while continuing to make the vaccine available for children between the ages of 12 and 15 under its “emergency use authorization.” On Friday, the FDA expanded its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to kids between the ages of 5 and 11, but McAuliffe campaign spokesmen did not respond to requests for comment from National Review on Friday or Saturday about whether McAuliffe would expand a COVID vaccination mandate to include children under 12 in Virginia.
Youngkin opposes all statewide mask and vaccine mandates, leaving decisions about such requirements up to private businesses and local authorities.
At an event with President Biden on Wednesday, McAuliffe said: “Last week, two 11-year-olds died of COVID. We cannot let Glenn Youngkin be in charge of our children’s education or their health.”
For children under the age of 12, the fatality rate for COVID is no greater than the fatality rate for the flu. “In Kids, The Risk Of COVID-19 And The Flu Are Similar — But The Risk Perception Isn’t,” NPR reported in May.