Austin stated in the memo that to defend our Nation, we need a strong and healthy force. With the support of President Austin, I have decided that mandatory vaccination against coronavirus is necessary to protect the Force...and defend the American people.
Troops will have the ability to receive their Pfizer shots from their bases or commandments around the globe. According to the Pentagon, there is enough vaccine supply to satisfy demand. Service members can also get the Covid vaccines by themselves.
National Guard troops scattered across the country may have difficulty fulfilling the mandate for vaccines. They only gather once per month to practice their required drills.
The Pentagon estimates that there are over 1.3 million active duty troops and nearly 800,000. Guard and Reserve troops. As of Aug. 18, over 1 million Guard and Reserve personnel were fully vaccinated and almost 245,000 had received at least one dose.
Senior military leaders have repeatedly urged their troops to get vaccines via a variety of public pleas and social media campaigns. Many service members, as with the U.S. populace, have been reluctant to get vaccines.
According to defense officials, it is crucial that troops get the vaccine as they live and work together and could be affected by an outbreak.
According to military officials, they do not have any numbers about Guard troops that are still unvaccinated. The Pentagon provides only a total troop number, which includes active duty, Guard, and Reserve.
Officials from the Guard have stated that it has been difficult to determine how many soldiers have received a vaccine. Only now can they begin to track the number more accurately as Guard members report to drill weekends in fall.
Austin's mandate for the vaccine fulfills an earlier month vow to have it by mid-September or as soon as FDA licensure is complete, whichever comes first. As nations battle with the highly contagious delta virus that has seen U.S. cases rise to levels not seen since last autumn, Austin's move is similar to other companies and governments around the globe.
The number of military personnel being hospitalized and dying is on the rise. The number of military personnel who have died in the last month has increased by more than one-third, from 25 to 34.
According to the Austin memo, vaccination of the Force will save many lives. We are grateful for your attention to this important mission.
Depending on their deployment, members of the U.S. Military are required to receive up to 17 vaccines. There are temporary and permanent exemptions to the requirements for shots for smallpox and hepatitis. These can also be used for administrative or medical reasons.
Austin noted in the memo that the new requirement would allow exemptions that will be consistent with current policies for all other vaccines. A permanent exemption is for serious medical reactions, immune deficiencies, such as HIV infection, or evidence of immunity through a serologic antibody test.
Administrative exemptions are also available, including one for religious purposes. Based on their policies, the military services grant religious exemptions. It seems to be very rare. Commanders make this decision after consulting with chaplains and medical personnel.
Both the Navy and Marine Corps claimed that they have received no religious exemption requests for vaccines in the recent past, while the Air Force stated that there were very few. The Army could not provide any data.
Just over half of Americans are fully vaccinated using one of three options: Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson.
Only the Pfizer vaccine is affected by the Pentagon decision. Moderna also applied to FDA for full approval. J&J stated that it plans to do so in the latter part of this year.