Four branches of the US military have announced vaccination deadlines as part of a Pentagon mandate to vaccinate the entire military, with the military being the latest to set a specific date for personnel to receive the vaccine.
Active-duty military personnel will need to be fully immunized by Dec.15, the branch said in a statement Tuesday, noting that reservists and National Guard units have until June 30, 2022.
“It is literally a matter of life and death for our soldiers, their families and the communities in which we live”, said Lt. Gen. Scott Dingle, US Army Surgeon General. “The number of cases and deaths continue to be of concern as the Delta variant spreads, making force protection through mandatory vaccination a health and readiness priority for the entire military. . “
Soldiers can apply for exemptions if they have a “Legitimate medical, religious or administrative reason”, the army said, but added that those who “Who refuse to be vaccinated” without exemption will be faced “Administrative or non-judicial sanction”, up to and including “Change of duties or dismissal”.
The military’s announcement follows similar moves by the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. Earlier this month, the Air Force set a Nov. 2 date for all active-duty Airmen, while other personnel were given a Dec. 2 deadline. Members of the Marines and Navy must be fully immunized by November 28; reservists have until December 28.
The branches decided to set deadlines following an order from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in late August, which required all 1.3 million active-duty soldiers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, but allowed each service to determine exactly how to implement the mandate.
The DoD’s vaccine rule is one in a series of federal requirements imposed in recent weeks. Although President Joe Biden has vowed not to issue a full warrant, his administration has slowly increased the number of Americans required by the federal government to take the coup through a series of regulatory measures, with piecemeal warrants now covering a large part of the American population.
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In total, more than 1.1 million soldiers have been fully immunized in all four branches (Space Force is counted with Air Force figures), according to Pentagon data, which shows the Navy and Air Force are at the top of vaccinations, each showing vaccination rates. beyond 90%. The military, the largest branch in terms of personnel, has vaccinated some 414,780 soldiers, or about 86% of the branch, while the Marine Corps lags with only about 65% of its approximately 180,000 members fully vaccinated. .
The Marines saw greater reluctance towards vaccines compared to other branches, with April data showing a rejection rate of nearly 39% among the service, compared to 33% in the military overall. Additionally, a straw poll conducted earlier this year of active duty soldiers, military spouses and veterans showed that more than half, or 53%, had no intention of getting vaccinate, indicating significant skepticism about vaccines among the armed forces. The subsequent full FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine may have helped allay concerns since, however, as other investigative data suggested that full clearance would help build public confidence.
Although only 43 servicemen died from Covid-19 as of September 8, the virus has also claimed more than 400 Defense Ministry civilian staff and contractors. Outbreaks aboard U.S. warships have also plagued the Navy throughout the pandemic, with the USS Theodore Roosevelt saw a wave of infections last year that surpassed 1,100, killing one sailor and hospitalizing several others. In March 2020, “Concerns about the spread of the coronavirus” also resulted in a 60-day global freeze on all U.S. troop movements, further underscoring the impact Covid-19 has had on the military.
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