by Brandon Jarvis

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe announced Monday that he is requiring his campaign staff to be vaccinated. 

“In the interest of public health and the safety and wellbeing of our team, Terry for Virginia has made the decision to require full vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of employment with the campaign,” said McAuliffe’s campaign manager Chris Bolling. 

McAuliffe is not the first Democratic leader in Virginia to take this type of step. Governor Northam ordered all state employees to be vaccinated or face weekly COVID-19 tests and Richmond’s 3600 city employees are required to receive their first dose by Aug. 18. 

McAuliffe, however, is the first statewide candidate in Virginia to have this employment requirement. His opponent Glenn Youngkin recently announced that he received the vaccine himself and encouraged his supporters to do it as well. 

Youngkin has still pushed back against the prospect of vaccine requirements. “As Glenn has said, he made the choice to get vaccinated himself and he encourages people to get the vaccine, but it should be left to the individual to make the decision,” said Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for the Youngkin campaign. 

Now with the latest surge in cases, GOP leaders across the country are starting to take a more aggressive approach in promoting the vaccine after months of apprehension.

An example in Virginia would be the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor recently taking a more direct approach of encouraging her supporters to get the vaccine after saying “we have got to leave people be,” a few weeks earlier. 

McAuliffe’s campaign called on Youngkin to take the same step and require his staff to get vaccinated. “If Glenn Youngkin truly wants Virginians to get vaccinated and take this virus seriously, his leadership must start with his own campaign.” 

Youngkin’s campaign says that McAuliffe would deny Virginians their rights to healthcare decisions if elected. “If Terry McAuliffe gets the chance, he will shut down our economy, close small businesses, and deny Virginians the right to make their own health care decisions,” Porter said.    

McAuliffe’s campaign provided no details about how many staffers still need to be vaccinated or if there is any specific timeline. 

“The only way we’re going to truly end this pandemic and keep our economy strong is by getting every eligible Virginian vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Bolling said. “The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, supporters and volunteers is our top priority, and this is another important step to protect our community and get through this pandemic.”

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By vascope