HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Should the COVID-19 Vaccine Be Required for the Military?

Mark Nevitt (Syracuse University), Should the COVID-19 Vaccine Be Required for the Military?, Just Sec. N.Y.U. (2021):

By some estimates, approximately one-third of U.S. military service members have opted out of the COVID-19 vaccine. Some think that number could be higher; for example, according to a new report, nearly 40 percent of U.S. Marines are declining vaccinations. An earlier December report from the nonprofit advocacy group Blue Star Families estimated that nearly half of military members would decline the vaccine if offered. In response, six members of Congress recently sent a letter to President Joe Biden, asking him to make the vaccine mandatory for all military service members.

In what follows, I address three questions that have arisen from the U.S. military’s ongoing efforts to vaccinate members of the armed forces:

1. Can military members be legally required to receive the COVID-19 vaccination?

2. What lessons from earlier military vaccination efforts (e.g. anthrax) can be applied to COVID-19?

3. What is the impact on vaccination refusal on military readiness?

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