A historical analysis of vaccine mandates in the United States military and its application to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Vaccine. 2022 Dec 5;40(51):7500-7504. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2022.08.017. Epub 2022 Aug 15.


The Department of Defense has implemented a mandate that all military personnel be vaccinated against COVID-19. This article reviews the historical precedent of vaccine mandates for United States military personnel dating back to the formation of the continental army, as well as previous controversies about vaccine mandates such as the first influenza vaccine mandate and the Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program. The historical review discusses precedent for the current COVID-19 vaccine mandate and the reception of these vaccine mandates by military personnel. The review then discusses how these historical lessons can inform the present COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Keywords: COVID-19 vaccine; Medical history; Military history; Military medicine; Vaccine history.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Influenza Vaccines*
  • Military Personnel*
  • United States


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Influenza Vaccines