Oct 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops remain unvaccinated as deadlines near

Army soldiers vaccine

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members remain unvaccinated ahead of the impending deadlines set by the individual service branches, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: The deadlines for active-duty members are quickly approaching, and while the military's overall vaccination rate has increased, it is still shy of full compliance.

Flashback: The Pentagon announced in August that it would require all service members to get inoculated against the virus, but allowed the service branches to set individual vaccination deadlines.

  • Active-duty Army soldiers have until Dec. 15, while Reserve and National Guard units have until June 30, 2022.
  • Active-duty Air Force and Space Force guardians have until Nov. 2 while Air Force reservists and Guard troops have until Dec. 2.
  • Active-duty sailors and Marines have until Nov. 28 and reservists have until Dec. 28.
  • The full inoculation requirement means the final vaccine (or the one shot of Johnson & Johnson) must be administered at least two weeks before the deadline.

By the numbers: Data obtained by the Post indicates that the military's effort to fully vaccinate its workforce has been somewhat scattered across the individual services.

  • About 90% of the active-duty Navy is fully immunized against the virus, according to the data.
  • By contrast, the active-duty Marine Corps, which faces the same Nov. 28 deadline as the Navy, is only at 72%, per the Post.

What they're saying: "The Army's policy is incentivizing inaction until the latest possible date," Katherine Kuzminski, a military policy expert, told the Post.

  • "We expect all unvaccinated soldiers to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. Individual soldiers are required to receive the vaccine when available," Lt. Col. Terence Kelley, an Army spokesman, said, per the Post.

Of note: All 763,000 of the DOD civilian employees must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22.

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