Everything You Need To Know About Vaccine Mandates

Covid vaccine mandate vs. law

The legal term “mandate” has been in the news regularly recently as COVID-19 vaccine mandates have popped up from state to state and a federal mandate has recently gone into effect for companies with more than 100 employees. However, lost in this hubbub has been discussion about what a mandate is and how it might impact you. Here’s what you need to know about mandates, both in general and specifically in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine.

1. Are Mandates Laws?

First off, are mandates legally binding? A mandate is, in fact, legally binding. It carries the same weight as any other law, with its fairly broad and binding powers laid out in Article Two of the United States Constitution. Until a mandate either expires, is found unconstitutional by the courts, or is revoked by the same level of power that issued it, mandates are treated as law.

Many different levels of government can issue mandates. For example, if a state has a vaccine mandate, the governor of the state will be the one who issued it. The federal vaccine mandate, on the other hand, was issued by President Joe Biden, which means it supersedes all other mandates across the country.

2. Is an Executive Order and a Mandate the Same Thing?

“Executive order” and “mandate” are often used interchangeably. The truth of the matter is that they can be interchangeable, but not always. An executive order is a legal statement by the president of the United States or by a state governor that manages operations of the federal government. On the other hand, a “mandate” is simply a legal requirement. Technically, any vaccination requirements could be considered mandates, regardless of how they were put into law.

3. Are Vaccine Mandates Legal?

The short answer is that currently, all answers point to yes. The long answer is that there is significant case law to say that vaccine mandates are legally enforceable, but the United States Supreme Court has not yet heard any cases regarding COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

The important thing to recognize here is that vaccine mandates are not compulsory vaccination. No one can literally restrain a person and force them to get vaccinated. Mandates are a health requirement to continue to participate in certain activities, like going to school, having a job, and going out to eat.

Vaccine mandates have been recognized by the Supreme Court for over a century. During the smallpox epidemic, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory vaccination against smallpox was constitutional because medical professionals “have considered the risk of an injury too small to be seriously weighed as against the benefits coming from the discreet and proper use of the preventive.” This will likely come into play as parties file various lawsuits against vaccine mandates.

4. Can People Refuse To Comply With a Vaccine Mandate for Medical or Ethical Reasons?

Currently, the federal vaccine mandate offers an exemption for medical or religious reasons. Individuals seeking exemptions must show that they have “sincerely held beliefs” against getting vaccinated. However, this is something that may change state by state.

For example, in California and New York, religious exemptions are no longer allowed for other vaccine mandates due to measles outbreaks. It’s possible that certain states with high or severe transmissibility levels may choose to revoke the religious exemption clause. Currently, the United States Supreme Court has never made a ruling on this, but that may change in the future.

5. How Might the Vaccine Mandate Impact the General Public?

The intention behind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is to make sure more people get vaccinated before returning to the world as everyone remembers it. If you want to make sure the vaccine mandate works as much as possible, you should convince the people in your life to get vaccinated. You also might want to use the PeopleFinders blog to stay up to date on news about the COVID-19 crisis, including information about new variants and legal requirements.


Vaccine mandates are not new—if you’ve ever had a child, you know that some vaccines are required to participate in society. However, the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is fairly new, and it could be one of the keys to ending the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have people in your life who are resistant, talking to them about getting vaccinated could be your way of helping end the pandemic.

Image Attribution: GoodIdeas – stock.adobe.com

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