Justice vetoes WV bill that would have eliminated/allowed district level choices on Vax requirements

27 March 2024- Gov. Jim Justice announced today that he has vetoed HB 5105, which would have removed vaccination requirements for students in virtual public schools and allow private and parochial schools to set their own standards.

Gov. Justice said the following in his veto letter:

“Since this legislation was passed, I have heard constant, strong opposition to this legislation from our State’s medical community. The overwhelming majority that have voiced their opinion believe that this legislation will do irreparable harm by crippling childhood immunity to diseases such as mumps and measles. West Virginia historically has seen very few instances of these diseases, specifically because the vaccination requirements in this State are so strong. Importantly, the vaccines at issue have been required in this State for decades and have kept our communities safe. Our surrounding states, however, have seen spikes in such illnesses recently. These spikes, we are advised, are the result of the lesser vaccine requirements in those states. The image below shows surrounding states with reported measles cases as of March 21, 2024, highlighted in blue.

“Additionally, we have heard from many private and parochial institutions all around the State, likewise requesting this bill be vetoed. We have heard from this community that they see this bill as purely divisive and, if signed into law, requiring consideration of adopting policies that will result in parents pulling their children from their schools. 

“I have always and will always defend our freedoms as West Virginians and as Americans. I hear how strongly people believe in one side or the other on this subject, and I respect all opinions. But I must follow the guidance of our medical experts on this subject. Our medical community in West Virginia serves our people every single day, helping protect our people from disease and poor health. Their wisdom should not be ignored–especially when it comes to the health and safety of our children.

“West Virginia is way ahead of the pack in protecting our children from preventable diseases like the measles, and in this matter, I will defer to our licensed medical professionals who have come forward overwhelmingly to say this bill could and likely would result in reduced immunity and harm to West Virginia’s kids. Our kids are our future. They are our most important resource, and I will protect them with everything I have. Accordingly, I hereby disapprove and return Enrolled Committee Substitute for House Bill 5105.”

Read the entire veto letter here.