The Iditarod Board of Directors announced this week that it made a very “tough decision” to ban from the 2022 race all mushers and race workers who have declined to get a COVID shot.

It’s unclear how the new mandate will impact overall race participation. Given that only 55 mushers have even bothered to sign up for the 2022 race, it is already set to be one of the smallest fields in more than 20 years. One musher has already withdrawn, although the reason is not clear.

More than half of all mushers signed up for the 2022 race are from some of the most unvaccinated areas of Alaska – the Mat-Su Valley and Fairbanks. Fifteen mushers are from the Mat-Su where nearly 60% of area residents are not deemed fully vaccinated. Another 14 mushers hail from the Fairbanks area where 50% of residents are not fully vaxed.

The new mandate, however, applies to the entire Iditarod community – mushers, staff, contractors, volunteers, pilots, veterinarians, etc.

“This decision was made in concert with feedback from rural Alaska and is reflective of the Iditarod’s broad community health consciousness,” the Iditarod stated in announcing the mandate.

The following list shows how many mushers signed up to race in the past 22 Iditarod races. This does not reflect the total number who started or finished, but those who initially signed, some of whom later scratched or withdrew.

  • 2022 – 55 mushers
  • 2021 – 66 mushers
  • 2020 – 62 mushers
  • 2019 – 55 mushers
  • 2018 – 77 mushers
  • 2017 – 84 mushers
  • 2016 – 90 mushers
  • 2015 – 81 mushers
  • 2014 – 74 mushers
  • 2013 – 71 mushers
  • 2012 – 74 mushers
  • 2011 – 65 mushers
  • 2010 – 79 mushers
  • 2009 – 79 mushers
  • 2008 – 114 mushers
  • 2007 – 107 mushers
  • 2006 – 105 mushers
  • 2005 – 102 mushers
  • 2004 – 88 mushers
  • 2003 – 64 mushers
  • 2002 – 64 mushers
  • 2001 – 68 mushers

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Iditarod imposes vax mandate but most mushers come from largely unvaxed areas

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Proud Alaskan says:

    I love the Iditarod. Another way for the peta group to shut down the Iditarod.
    Just run the race, get out of my way you woke people.
    Wait masks for all the dogs too, how stupid
    Stop the madness

  • Burtg says:

    Ideadarod………….another casualty of the Death Injection.

  • kris spencer says:

    Sound like a good way for the Left to kill dog racing. We’ve had all kinds of virus’s come thru in years past and NONE of this stupidity. A lot of extra funds pour into villages from the race…video crews, news crews, people who come from outside AK and all over the world just to experience the race renting rooms and cabins, eating at restaurants. Sounds like that’s all gonna go away pretty soon.

    • Fred Lee says:

      The last thing rural Alaskan communities need is a Covid outbreak because some anti-social death cult member refuses to get a safe and effective vaccine.

      Getting the vaccine is voluntary, but decisions have consequences.

      I applaud the Iditarod organizers for taking a brave stand against ignorance.

      • Jenn Mack says:

        Safe an effective you say? I stopped reading because you are either a liar or completely ignorant.

      • AB says:

        Jenn (and nearly everyone else in the comments of this publication, as well as the editors), did you happen to read Joel’s article a few weeks ago about having an open mind and not living in an echo chamber? While the irony of that piece appearing in this cavernous echo chamber of a publication is rich, it is well worth reading and taking to heart.

      • Common Peasant says:

        Ahh Fred, you are so good at parroting the narrative. Ain’t no strings that’ll hold you down.

      • Andrea S. says:

        It’s a treatable flu. Let the doctors treat people with the drugs that work as soon as they get sick, instead of waiting until they are too far gone. The not reason people die of COVID is the ignorant policy of waiting to treat.

      • Michael S Totten says:

        Show me an isolate of the coronavirus. No you say? That’s right,, you can’t, because the government made it up. It’s flu A&B mutated into an agressive pneumonia. You drank the koolaid again!

  • AK Fish says:

    Approximately 80% of the COVID-19 hospitalizations in the State are made up of unvaccinated people that did not get the vaccine. Fact, not fiction. Just saying.

    • Common Peasants says:

      Anyone who has taken the jab are still considered unvaccinated if within 14 days of having taken the jab. Beware how the officials manipulate protocol to fit a narrative.

    • Michael S Totten says:

      Your facts accoeding to who? The CDC who are paid to lie to you? CNN journalists who are given a script? Please share your sources so the rest of us can be as educated as you. Because the FACT IS that the vaxxed are 1000 times more likely to catch a viral load because the vax was designed to kill you. So make sure you get all your boosters to!

  • Common Peasant says:

    Is it possible that a certain animal rights activist group has somehow infiltrated the Iditarod and is now in charge of setting policy that will ultimately destroy the race all together?

    Anyone pushing drugs this hard should definitely be investigated.

  • Lorine says:

    The only people I know personally that have died during this created panic both died right after the second kill shot. Lovely people, so tragic and unnecessary.

  • Matt Myers says:

    These race organizers have appeared comically corrupt in recent years. Now we add anti-scientific wokeness as well?!?!
    I will start caring about the race again when some top racers just sidestep it and make a new one without all of the unnecessary added crap, politics, and favoritism.

  • Michael S Totten says:

    I don’t care to participate in society anyway. I have been to one Iditarod and i will never go again. It’s just a bunch of vendors with overpriced crap