Vaccine mandates have worked in the past. Can they overcome modern hurdles?
The public health directives are older than the U.S. itself. But it's unclear whether they will be effective at driving up COVID-19 vaccination among the nation's 80 million resistant adults.
As vaccinations lag across the U.S. and COVID-19 cases continue to rise, new federal mandates will attempt to stymie the spread of the virus by requiring millions of workers to be vaccinated or face weekly testing.
President Joe Biden on September 9 announced the new mandates, which apply to workers at companies with more than 100 employees, federal workers and contractors, and health-care workers at institutions that receive federal funding. Together, the various orders affect about 100 million American workers.
These mandates, although sweeping, follow a precedent of U.S. vaccine directives that date to the days of the Revolutionary War. “Mandates are American, and resistance to them is American,” says Elena Conis, a historian of medicine