Many Republican governors reacted furiously after President Joe Biden said he would require employees at large businesses to either get vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing. But Republican- and Democratic-led states alike already require hundreds of thousands of their citizens to be vaccinated against a panoply of diseases. In fact, mandatory childhood immunizations have been a feature of American society since the 19th century.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends routine vaccination against 16 diseases from birth through age 18. Of these, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia mandate diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (also known as whooping cough), polio, measles, rubella and chickenpox. In addition, every state except Iowa mandates immunization against mumps. Except for the chickenpox vaccine, which became available in the United States in 1995, all those vaccines have been around for 50 years or more.