Pentagon Officially Drops Covid-19 Vaccination Requirement for Soldiers | lifestyle

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has officially rescinded the Army’s mandate for Covid-19 vaccinations for troops after President Joe Biden signed the National Defense Act of 2023, which calls for its repeal.

“Section 525 of the NDAA for fiscal year 2023 requires me to rescind the mandate that members of the armed forces be vaccinated against Covid-19 issued in my memorandum dated August 24, 2021 … I hereby rescind that memorandum,” Austin said in a statement . note on Tuesday night.

The demand to remove the mandate was seen as a win for conservative lawmakers who have long argued that they hinder the military’s recruiting efforts, although Pentagon officials said there was no evidence to support that claim.

After news that the mandate would soon be lifted, questions arose about what impact it would have on the military’s ability to deploy or rotate in host countries, some of which have their own vaccination requirements. The Covid-19 vaccine was one of more than a dozen requested by the Department of Defense, and Austin clarified in his statement that other standing “vaccination policies, procedures and processes remain in place.”

“These include the ability for commanders to consider, as appropriate, the individual immunization status of personnel when making deployment, assignment and other operational decisions, including when vaccination is required for travel to or entry into a foreign country,” Austin said. .

According to Austin’s memo, no members currently in uniform who have been awaiting approval of a religious or medical exemption to receive a mandate will be separated from the military. Austin also ordered the services to update the individuals’ military records and remove “any adverse actions solely associated with application denials” from their files.

As for those already decommissioned because of their refusal to receive the vaccine, which fell under disobedience of a lawful order, Austin stated in the memo that the DOD is “precluded by law from granting any characterization less than a general (on honorable terms) discharge.” General discharges are a step down from honorable discharges and are usually for units that have had satisfactory service but minor misconduct.

Service members who received that discharge because of their refusal to get the vaccine can ask their branch to correct their records, Austin said.

“The Department’s Covid-19 vaccination efforts will leave a lasting legacy in the many lives we saved, the world-class force we were able to build, and the high level of readiness we maintained amid difficult public health conditions,” Austin concluded. “Our efforts have been made possible primarily by the strength and dedication of our people.”


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