The history of vaccination mandates — and the pushback against them

Denise Thiede, a registered nurse, fills up a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a mobile vaccine clinic held in Winthrop, Minn. in July.
Hannah Yang | MPR News file

Last week President Joe Biden announced new vaccination mandates as part of his plan to address the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. Under the mandate, most health care workers and federal workers and contractors are required to get vaccinated, and employers with 100 or more workers must mandate vaccinations or weekly testing. 

The mandate received swift backlash from conservative leaders. But vaccine mandates — as well as the backlash to them — have a long history in the United States.

Host Angela Davis talks about the latest information on COVID-19 vaccinations, and she explores the history of vaccine mandates and pushback. 


  • Dr. Mark Schleiss is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital

  • Jennifer Reich is a sociology professor at the University of Colorado Denver. She specializes in welfare and policy and health care issues. 

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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