Posts tagged ‘COVID-19 vaccinations in the military’

WORLD WAR CV: COVID-19 Vaccination Remains a Difficult Issue for the Sea Services

GETTING TO THE JAB.

On August 24th 2021, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin determined that requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all members of the military was necessary to protect the force and maintain readiness to defend the American people.

In the year since Austin made vaccination mandatory with President Joe Biden’s approval, the vast majority of people in uniform — nearly 2 million — have gotten fully vaccinated. As of September 7, the latest Defense Department COVID-19 statistics, 1 million, 996 thousand service members have been fully vaccinated, including 909, 699 in r the Army, 387,535 in the Navy, 200,532 in the Marine Corps and 498,541 for the Air Force and Space Force combined. More than 28,000 are considered partially vaccinated — meaning those who have received at least one dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Henry Beaty administers a COVID-19 booster shot aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge on March 23, 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Schwab)

However, thousands more either refused to get the jab or sought administrative or religious exemption to the vaccination requirement. While hundreds have been granted administrative exemption from vaccination, but just a few have received religious accommodation. That has led led to several lawsuits.

Almost 5,000 Sailors and Marines have been separated from the sea services since late 2021 for vaccination refusal. The Navy has received 4,251 requests for religious accommodation, the Marines 3,733. Less than 100 have been approved. However, a federal judge in Texas certified a class action by Sailors, mostly Navy SEALS, seeking a religious exemption and issued a preliminary injunction March 30, halting separation for members of the class. A similar injunction was issued against the Marine Corps on August 18 by a federal judge in Florida.

Meanwhile, seven cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy who refused to comply with the military’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate were dis-enrolled and ordered off the school’s New London, Connecticut campus in late August, SEAPOWER reported. Although a part of the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard announced a vaccination mandate for service members on August 26th, 2021. By law, the Coast Guard operates under the Defense Department as part of the Department of the Navy when war is declared and Congress directs the shift, or when the President directs the Coast Guard to switch from Homeland Security to Defense.

Fifteen cadets filed medical exemption or religious accommodation requests in September 2021. They were evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Coast Guard’s Office of Military Personnel Policy and denied. After a series of appeals and further denials, four cadets chose vaccination. Four others resigned from the Academy and the remaining seven were removed from the school for “violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice” for not obeying orders. For more details click here to see the SEAPOWER report by your 4GWAR editor, who is also a correspondent for the magazine and its website.

On a final note, the Defense Department announced Aug. 29 a new COVID-19 vaccine, Novavax, will be available as an option at military clinics. Officials hope Novavax, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration under an emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 12 years of age and older, may be more acceptable to the thousands of troops who have refused the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines for religious or moral reasons.

Novavax uses technology that has been used in other vaccines required by the military, like hepatitis B vaccine. Novavax is not made with, or tested on, cells from fetal tissue. It does not use mRNA or DNA technology and does not enter the nucleus of cells, Pentagon officials said.

September 13, 2022 at 1:03 am Leave a comment

WORLD WAR CV: Services’ Deadlines for Mandatory Vaccination Loom; Air Force Falls Short

Deadlines Near.

Three days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Defenses Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive on August 26 that mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for service members are necessary to protect the health and readiness of the force.

Because the three available anti-COVID vaccines were only approved for human application by the FDA under an emergency use authorization (EUA), no one — including members of the military — could be compelled to get vaccinated. More than 73 percent of active duty personnel had received at least one shot of the vaccines by mid-August. However, thousands more service men and women declined to roll up their sleeves for inoculation, according to SEAPOWER.

Hawaii National Guard medic Sergeant Cassandra N. Park, administers the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to Colonel Jon A. Ishikawa, commander of the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, October 1, 2021, at Kalaeloa, Hawaii. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lieutenant Anyah Peatross)

In announcing FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older in August, Dr. Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s acting administrator, said “the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards of safety and effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product.”

The Army, Navy and Air Force finalized their deadlines for all service members in the active duty forces, Reserves and National Guard to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in mid-September.

The deadline for the Air Force was November 2 for active duty airmen and December 2 for reserves and the Air National Guard. The Navy deadline is November 28 for active duty sailors and Marines, with reservists having until December 28. The Army deadline for all active duty service members is December 15. Army reservists and the National Guard  have until June 30, 2022 to be fully vaccinated. The services are each handling their own logistics for vaccinations, according to the official website of the Military Health System.

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Air Force Lags.

The Air Force missed having its entire force vaccinated by November 2. In all, 10,352 Airmen and Space Force Guardians — including 1,866 who have received medical or administrative exemptions — remain unvaccinated out of a total Active-duty force of approximately 326,000, Air Force Magazine reported November 3.

Senior Airman Sara Sanchez from the 6th Health Care Operations Squadron prepares a COVID-19 vaccine for distribution at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Sept. 30, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren Cobin)

Eight hundred uniformed personnel have refused the shot and nearly 5,000 Airmen and Guardians waiting to find out if their religious exemptions will be approved. Nearly 7 percent of the Active-duty force has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, 95.9 percent of them are fully vaccinated.

That still puts the Air Force behind the Navy, which was 99 percent vaccinated as of November. 1. As of that date, 93 percent of Active-duty Marines and 90 percent of Active-duty Soldiers were vaccinated.

Among those who remain unvaccinated, 1,634 have received medical exemptions; 232 have received administrative exemptions, such as separation or retirement; and 4,933 are pending a decision related to a request for religious exemption.

Another 2,753 unvaccinated individuals are categorized as “not started.” The Air Force said some of those individuals are deployed to overseas locations where vaccines are not readily available, the magazine noted.

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USAF Boots Recruits Who Refuse the Shot.

Forty would-be airmen or Guardians have been separated from Air Force and Space Force recruit training after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, Military.com reported October 29.

Air Force officials confirmed that 40 basic military and technical trainees have been discharged under entry-level separation characterizations for refusing the vaccine.

Entry-level discharges can be awarded to personnel who have yet to serve 180 days; it usually carries no designation such as a good, bad or other-than-honorable discharge, simply equating to a separation from service with a potential for reenlistment if the individual chooses to get the vaccine, the website noted.

November 3, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment


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