The United States military will mandate the COVID-19 vaccine per the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, according to his August 9 letter to the force. The vaccine will be added to the required list of vaccines for all branches of the military.
In anticipation of the full FDA licensure of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Austin will seek the "President's approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon the U.S. Food and Drug Agency (FDA) licensure, whichever comes first." Per Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, this deadline does not mean all service members will be vaccinated by Sept. 15.
Letter to the Force/Secretary of Defense/Aug. 9 Vaccine Mandatory Letter
On Monday, in a message to the Joint Force, Gen. Mark Milley wrote a letter promoting the requirement of the COVID-19 vaccine stating that "mandating vaccines in the military is not new." The letter included an added hand-written note stating that "getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a key force protection and readiness issue."
UncoverDC has reported extensively on the COVID-19 vaccine, and there is evidence that using the vaccine to prevent COVID infection may not be entirely effective. During his appearance on Steve Bannon's War Room, Pathologist Kevin Homer stated that there is evidence showing that the vaccinated are spreading the disease. Mentioning the risks of dying from COVID and the efficacy of therapeutics like Ivermectin and HCQ, he explains that taking the vaccine does not always make sense.
There is also evidence that disease-induced immunity is greater than vaccine-induced immunity, and the CDC is recommending the vaccine despite previous infection. Homer stated, "If you've had the disease, why would you take the risk of a vaccine when the antibodies you have are far superior to any vaccine?" The vaccine is still under EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) and was developed extremely quickly.
Department of Defense Memos Since January 2021
Below are the DoD memos that reference mitigation strategies for the spread of the SARS CoV-2 Virus since January. The memos include guidance on masks, workforce, social distancing, testing, data reporting, vaccines, and other mitigation protocols.
- A July 28 memo from Michael B. Donley, Director of Administration and Management for the Pentagon, required "service members, federal employees, onsite contractor employees, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask in an indoor setting in installations and other facilities owned, leased or otherwise controlled by DoD in the Pentagon Reservation."
- July 21 memo following a June 11 memo from the office of the Undersecretary of Defense, Virginia Penrod, updating the DoD surveillance strategy for COVID-19 "pandemic response, including health surveillance activities, screening testing of asymptomatic individuals, and sentinel surveillance using a screening testing protocol due to the asymptomatic transmission risk of COVID-19, and consistent with the Food and Drug Administration determinations to date, negative COVID-19 test results do not indicate an absence of infection." The updated guidelines include genome sequencing, focusing on vaccine breakthroughs, wastewater surveillance, broader testing and surveillance of the military population, including voluntary testing of family members.
July 21 DoD memo on Surveillance Strategies for Military
- On July 7, a DoD memo lowered its HPCON level from HPCON Bravo (B) to HPCON Alpha (A). HPCON levels is a protocol of health protection levels for the DoD. 0 indicates the safest level of protection. The memo states that the workplace "will not exceed more than 90% of normal occupancy" and continued to encourage "maximum telework opportunities" for qualifying individuals. It also opened the Pentagon and 9/11 Memorial for tours.
- A June 22 memo on Force Health Protection (FHP) stated guidance on vaccinated personnel. At that time, fully vaccinated individuals were not required to wear masks in DoD indoor spaces or facilities, except in correctional and health facilities. Fully vaccinated service members "should be prepared to show vaccination status." However, the rules also stated that civilian members could not be asked about their vaccination status. There was also guidance in the memo about the types of PPE and their use.
DoD Revision 1 on Masks and PPE/June 7, 2021
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) continuing a partnership between the DoD and Health and Human Services to defeat COVID-19 on May 26 was established in a previous MOU on May 20. The MOU states DoD execution of over $26 billion on behalf of HHS since the beginning of the pandemic. It also mentioned recent DoD awards of "three agreements totaling $650 million to Clinical Enterprise, Inc. (Eurofins), PerkinElmer Health Sciences, Inc., and Battelle Memorial Institute. These awards will support the government’s efforts to expand domestic COVID-19 testing for K-8 schools, underserved populations, and congregate settings such as homeless shelters—" to remain in place until Sept. 30, 2023.
- A May 20 memo discussed the methods to enable and encourage the COVID-19 Vaccination, directing the Department "to act boldly and quickly to defend the force against the disease." Accessibility, education, policies, and procedures for managing personnel were discussed. At this point in time, the vaccination remained voluntary.
- The memo from May 4 details FHP for deployed and redeployed individuals, including contractors.
- The April 12 memo provides guidance on domestic and international travel for personnel during the pandemic, including choices about exemptions for certain military personnel.
- Several memos were issued on March 22. Supplement 18 is a March 17 memo on workplace practices. At the time, non-immunized personnel, who otherwise would be self-quarantining, were granted an exception to work if asymptomatic. Supplement 16 is an earlier iteration of FHP. The March 15 memo details guidelines for COVID19 testing services, indicating pooled testing protocols.
- A March 15 memo discusses travel restrictions. At the time, there were several exemptions from restrictions on travel due to COVID-19.
Exemptions from Travel Restrictions/DoD/March 15, 2021
- On Feb. 24, the Secretary of Defense Austin released a video on the safety of the vaccine, encouraging everyone to "chip in to defeat this virus once and for all."
- A Feb. 4 memo announced a general set of guidelines for masks and social distancing.
- A Jan. 11 memo indicated initial Biden administration guidelines on FHP (Supplement 15)
- As of Jan. 19, per an announcement by Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, 5,500,000 additional Warp Speed Vaccine deliveries were distributed to the American people. The total number of vaccine doses distributed was 35,761,800.
- Secretary Austin's "Day 1 memo to the Force" emphasized his focus on the pandemic and his commitment to helping "the Federal Government move further and faster to eradicate the devastating effects of the coronavirus. To that end, we will also do everything we can to vaccinate and care for our workforce and to look for meaningful ways to alleviate the pressure this pandemic has exerted on you and your families."
As of July 16, Austin announced that "70% of active-duty troops have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine," behind the Pentagon's goal of a fully vaccinated force by mid-July. As of June 30, the Military Times reported that "77 percent of active-duty sailors were vaccinated, 61 percent for the Air Force and 58 percent for the Marine Corps"—numbers that reflected having received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Monday that 73% of active-duty troops have at least one dose, and more than 60% are now fully vaccinated.
A chart posted by TaskandPurpose.com shows the top 12 reasons that soldiers at Fort Carson have opted out of the vaccine. The chart includes an official U.S. Army response to each of the 12 reasons.
Fort Carson Soldiers Responses to COVID Vaccine/TaskandPurpose.com
Vaccine Passports have been the subject of contentious debate. With the advent of the U.S. government's push to insinuate itself in personal health decisions, it may be increasingly difficult to travel without one.