Skip to main content

© All rights reserved. Powered by YOOtheme.

Which U.S. States Are Banning Vaccine Mandates?

As the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) declaration winds down this spring, states across the United States are taking different approaches to vaccine mandates. Some states, like Massachusetts, have decided to end their vaccine mandate coinciding with the end of the federal PHE on May 11. Officials in other states have taken the tack of preventing vaccine mandates from occurring in the future. These COVID vaccine bans may persist the next time a pandemic situation (or otherwise) arises. 

Public health communicators and members of the general public alike stand to benefit from knowing how vaccine legislation is evolving across the country. Here’s what you should know about the U.S. states that are implementing bans on COVID vaccine mandates. 

What Is a Ban on COVID Vaccine Mandates? 

It’s easy to get tripped up by double negatives when analyzing COVID vaccine mandate bans. However, the simplest explanation is that in some states, COVID vaccines have been mandated for workers in certain sectors, such as those working for the state. This has caused tension between employers and their employees who did not want to get vaccinated or boosted and therefore faced jeopardized employment situations.

The same tension has been true of students attending public schools or universities that have required proof of COVID-19 vaccination. To elevate free choice, officials in some states have banned the use of vaccine mandates moving forward, with the thought that freedom should outweigh being compelled to participate in a public health campaign. 

Where Are COVID Vaccine Mandate Bans Being Implemented? 

North Carolina is one of the states considering banning vaccine mandates. At the end of March 2023, a bill was advanced in the North Carolina House of Representatives that would disallow schools and higher education institutions from requiring students to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination and from mandating booster shots. For context, the reigning state laws in North Carolina do mandate proof of vaccination in educational settings for other diseases, such as hepatitis B. The bill also bans state agencies from mandating that employees have been vaccinated for consideration or continuation of employment. 

In Montana, a bill was passed in May 2021 that disallowed private employers and government agencies from discriminating based on a person’s COVID vaccination status, including those working for healthcare agencies. However, this healthcare portion of the ban was subsequently blocked by a judge, which was seen as a victory for immunocompromised patients who were concerned about contracting COVID-19 when seeking medical care. 

In North Dakota, state government entities are not allowed to require private businesses to collect vaccination status documentation in conjunction with the hiring process. 

More states that have placed limitations or bans on COVID vaccine mandates include: 

  • Alabama has limitations on vaccine mandates, wherein employers are not allowed to consider vaccination status as a condition of employment if a potential employee has requested an exemption. 
  • Arizona has limitations on vaccine mandates, wherein employers must reasonably accommodate employees that have requested an exemption to the vaccine. 
  • Arkansas has limitations on mandates, wherein employers must allow their employees the choice of opting out of vaccination requirements if they have proof of antibodies or go through weekly testing. 
  • Texas has banned any employers in the state from enforcing vaccine mandates by executive order from Governor Greg Abbott. 

Other states, such as Florida, Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia, have laws in place that state that private employers should allow employees to opt out of vaccine mandates for various reasons, including religious exemptions, regular testing, COVID-19 immunity, or the use of PPE. Healthcare organizations in some of these states, such as North Dakota, are exempted from the bans. 

Other Developments in COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Bans 

In Idaho, lawmakers are even going one step beyond banning vaccine mandates and, instead, looking at banning the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines themselves. If the proposed bill passes, it will make it a misdemeanor for a person to administer a vaccine using the mRNA technology, citing the alleged “fast-tracking” of the vaccines. 

At a federal level, an appeals court upheld a ban on the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal workers, noting that a vaccine is considered an “irreversible medical procedure.” More developments are likely to occur as legislation that has been challenged is processed by the judicial system and the PHE comes to an end nationwide. You can keep tabs on vaccine mandates and bans by visiting the National Academy for State Health Policy’s website. 

Research and materials for this article were compiled, written, and distributed on behalf of the National Public Health Information Coalition. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the various authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Public Health Information Coalition or its members. 


[1] Massachusetts COVID public health emergency, vaccine mandate to end on May 11. 

[2] North Carolina House advances ban on COVID vaccine mandates. 

[3] Federal judge strikes down Montana vaccine choice law in health settings. 

[4] State Efforts to Ban or Enforce COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates and Passports. 

[5] Georgia senators vote to bar COVID-19 vaccine requirements. 

[6] 12 states banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates & how they affect healthcare workers. 

[7] Idaho lawmaker proposes ban on mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. 

[8] Federal appeals court upholds ban on vaccine mandate for federal employees.