Govind Persad

Volume 74, Issue 2, 399-432

This Article examines whether policies—sometimes termed “vaccine mandates” or “vaccine requirements”—that consider vaccination status as a condition of employment, receipt of goods and services, or educational or other activity for participation are legally permitted, and whether such policies may even sometimes be legally required. It does so with particular reference to COVID-19 vaccines.

Part I explains the legality of private actors, such as employers or private universities, considering vaccination status, and concludes that such consideration is almost always legally permissible unless foreclosed by specific state legislation. Part II examines the consideration of vaccination status by state or federal policy. It concludes that such consideration is similarly allowed at the state level unless expressly foreclosed, and is allowed at the federal level if appropriately supported by federal regulatory authority. Part III examines what may be a future front in these debates: whether policies considering vaccination status may be required rather than merely permitted, just as some courts have found that mask requirements may be federally required in certain circumstances.