Army Announces Plan for Mandatory COVID Vaccines

Army Announces Plan for Mandatory COVID Vaccines

soldier giving vaccine
Photo by: U.S. Army National Guard/Spc. Alejandro Lucero

place by DoD.

Under the Army’s plan, units in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve must be fully vaccinated by June 30, 2022.

“This is quite literally a matter of life and death for our soldiers, their families and the communities in which we live,” Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle said in a statement. “Case counts and deaths continue to be concerning as the Delta variant spreads, which makes protecting the force through mandatory vaccination a health and readiness priority for the total Army.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Aug. 24 ordered that all service members be vaccinated against COVID-19. His decision came a day after the Food and Drug Administration announced its full approval of the two-shot vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech. 

More than 414,700 soldiers are already fully vaccinated, and nearly 192,000 are partially vaccinated, according to DoD data as of Sept. 8. 

Soldiers can request an exemption from receiving the vaccine for legitimate medical, religious or administrative reasons, the Army said. Those who don’t could face reprimand, administrative action and even discharge if they refuse to be vaccinated, the Army said.

Commanders will request a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand be initiated for any soldier who refuses to be vaccinated and does not have a pending or approved exemption request, the Army said, adding, “Such reprimands can be career ending.”  

Soldiers who continue to refuse the vaccine after being counseled by their chain of command and medical providers could receive administrative or non-judicial punishment, including relief of duties or discharge, the Army said.

Commanders, command sergeants major, first sergeants and officers in Command Select List positions who refuse to be vaccinated could face suspension and relief. They would then be counseled and given the opportunity to get the vaccine before they are subject to removal by a general officer, the Army said.

Officers and NCOs who have been selected and are waiting to assume Command Select List command, key billet or nominative sergeant major positions are likewise subject to removal from the list if they refuse to be vaccinated without a pending or approved exemption.

Ensuring the health and safety of soldiers is paramount, the Army said. 

“The health protection of our force is a top priority, and we will continue to ensure that our personnel have the most up-to-date information on appropriate safety measures to prevent potential spread of the virus,” the Army said.