Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver says he will mandate the vaccine once it is available.

Virginia's top health official, Dr. Norman Oliver, told a Richmond news station last Friday that he wants to mandate Covid-19 vaccination as soon as it becomes available for the public. The state's law gives the health official the authority to make such a decision, especially at a trying time of crisis.

Dr. Oliver has assured that the vaccine will be thoroughly tested for safety before mandating Virginia residents' immunization.

“It is killing people now, we don’t have a treatment for it, and if we develop a vaccine that can prevent it from spreading in the community, we will save hundreds and hundreds of lives,” Oliver said of the virus.

Under the current state law, people with medical exemptions can refuse the vaccination.

After the health expert's decision, the Virginia General Assembly is now considering a bill that will allow people to refuse immunization based on religious grounds. The bill will need to pass a House committee before the full chamber can advance it for reading, and no dates have been decided yet for the debate. Oliver has opposed the bill and expects Virginians to cooperate with the mandate.

As the coronavirus cases are still rising, many companies worldwide are working diligently to find the cure. With the current progress in labs, doctors and health experts expect a vaccine will be available early next year. While this sounds like good news, many people have been worried about the vaccine's safety, given the short period that it would be developed and tested.

“For me it’s an issue of being able to assess each vaccine for myself and my family one at a time. He shouldn’t be the one person to make a decision for all of Virginians,” says Kathleen Medaries, Director of Communications of Virginia Freedom Keepers.

Many people are supporting the Virginia bill now, and over 10,000 residents have signed a petition to preserve their right to accept or opt out of the vaccination.

On Wednesday, the Virginia Department of Health has reported 823 new cases, bringing the total number of active cases to 112,943. There have been 2,515 fatal cases in Virginia since the pandemic began, and 9,139 hospitalizations have been recorded all over the state.

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