The Legality and Ethics of Mandating COVID-19 Vaccination

Perspect Biol Med. 2021;64(4):479-493. doi: 10.1353/pbm.2021.0037.


In light of ongoing concerns in the US that COVID-19 vaccine uptake is stagnating and that cases remain high amongst the unvaccinated, there is growing interest in increasing uptake by mandating vaccination. COVID-19 vaccine mandates must be understood and assessed in terms of who is requiring vaccination and who is required to be vaccinated. This essay considers the legal and ethical implications of states mandating vaccination for children and adults, as well as of employers mandating vaccines for employees. We conclude that COVID-19 vaccine mandates are legally and ethically permissible.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines*


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines