Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin initially announced plans to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for all service members in mid-August but said he would wait for either one of the vaccines to be fully authorized by the FDA or mid-September to make the requirement official. After the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was fully authorized in August, he sent a memo making getting vaccinated mandatory and asking all of these services to come up with their own implementation plans. The US Marine Corps active-duty members also must be vaccinated by November 28 and reservists must be vaccinated by December 28, a release from the US Marine Corps said. “After careful consultation with medical experts and military leadership, and with the support of the President, I have determined that mandatory vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is necessary to protect the Force and defend the American people,” Austin wrote in a memo released August 25.
The US Air Force has also set deadlines for when their personnel will need to be vaccinated. The Air Force will require active-duty military members to be fully vaccinated by November 2, 2021. Air Force National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel will need to be vaccinated by December 2, 2021, a release from the Air Force said on September 3. Commanders, command sergeants major, first sergeants and officers, all considered leadership positions in the army, who don’t get vaccinated and do not have a request for exemption will “face suspension and relief if they refuse to comply,” the statement said.
The US Navy will require all active-duty service members to be fully vaccinated by November 28, 2021 and all Navy Reserve service members to be vaccinated by December 28, 2021, the Navy said in a release on August 21. The Army said soldiers who do not comply and do not have a request for exemption pending or approved could face “suspension and relief,” could be removed from lists of potential promotions within the Army or could receive reprimands, which can be “career ending,” the Army statement said. The punishment for not receiving a vaccine by the deadline varies by a soldier’s rank in the Army.
He added, “To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force.”
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