DOD Pentagon

SecDef Issues Guidance for Mandatory Vaccination

Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III released the following memorandum about his mandatory vaccination plan: 

To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force. 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.

Mandatory vaccinations are familiar to all of our Service members, and mission-critical inoculation is almost as old as the U.S. military itself. Our administration of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines has produced admirable results to date, and I know the Department of Defense will come together to finish the job, with urgency, professionalism, and compassion.

I therefore direct the Secretaries o f the Military Departments to immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces under DoD authority on active duty or in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard, who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Service members are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or two weeks after receiving a single dose of a one-dose vaccine. Those with previous COVID-19 infection are not considered fully vaccinated.

Mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 will only use COVID-19 vaccines that receive full licensure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in accordance with FDA-approved labeling and guidance. Service members voluntarily immunized with a COVID-19 vaccine under FDA Emergency Use Authorization or World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing in accordance with applicable dose requirements prior to, or after, the establishment of this policy are considered fully vaccinated. Service members who are actively participating in COVID-19 clinical trials are exempted from mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 until the trial is complete in order to avoid invalidating such clinical trial results.

Mandatory vaccination requirements will be implemented consistent with DoD Instruction 6205.02, “DoD Immunization Program,” July 23, 2019. The Military Departments should use existing policies and procedures to manage mandatory vaccination of Service members to the extent practicable. Mandatory vaccination of Service members will be subject toany identified contraindications and any administrative or other exemptions established in Military Department policy. The Military Departments may promulgate appropriate guidance to carry out the requirements set out above. The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness may provide additional guidance to implement and comply with FDA requirements or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

The Secretaries of the Military Departments should impose ambitious timelines for implementation. Military Departments will report regularly on vaccination completion using established systems for other mandatory vaccine reporting.

Our vaccination of the Force will save lives. Thank you for your focus on this critical mission.

Additional information

This memorandum was directed to senior Pentagon leadership commanders of the combatant commands. As well as the defense agency and DOD field activity directors. Cases of COVID-19 began to rise again around July, and have nearly returned to the record setting numbers of January.

Many service members have stated they will not take the vaccine, no matter the circumstances. Although, this represents only a minority of the force. Last month, the DOD reported that 70% of troops had already received at least one shot of that vaccine.

Some have criticized Austin for focusing on vaccines, while Afghanistan remands a “hot garbage fire.”

Stay tuned to American Grit for more news, stories and updates.

 

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