In early 2018, billionaire West Virginia Governor Jim Justice appointed two state legislators who pushed dangerous bills that undermined the necessity of vaccinations for school children, raising concerns about the Governor’s own views on vaccinations should a coronavirus vaccine become available in the future.
In January 2018, Gov. Justice appointed House Delegate Lynn Arvon to the West Virginia 9th Senate Seat, a platform she quickly utilized to promote passage of a dangerous bill that exempted schoolchildren from vaccination.
A month later, in February 2018, Gov. Justice appointed Chanda Adkins, another anti-vaxxer, to fill the West Virginia House of Delegates seat vacated by Arvon. At the time, Adkins was the director for West Virginians for Health and Freedom, an anti-vaccine group that advocated for parental choice of vaccination. Adkins’ organization continued to fight against vaccination requirements while she was in office, launching a slew of digital advertisements falsely linking vaccinations to autism, autoimmune disorders, and even allergies.
Gov. Justice declined to respond when reached for comment on his support of the policies touted by Adkins and Arvon.
As coronavirus continues to ravage lives and rapidly spread through the U.S., a vaccine is seen as the most likely and effective long term solution to combat the virus. As of Sunday, West Virginia currently has 124 known confirmed cases of coronavirus, with national numbers of infected individuals currently tabbing at a staggering 148,000 and nearly 2,600 deaths. And by giving an elected megaphone to anti-vaxxers such as Arvon and Adkins a year before COVID-19’s onset, Gov. Justice potentially encouraged thousands of West Virginians to resist the vaccine should it become publicly available – opening the door to an everlasting spread of coronavirus in the state.