Pentagon mandates COVID-19 vaccine for civilian workers

AP Political

FILE – In this Jan. 22, 2021, file photo, a certified medical assistant prepares doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. With more than 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines available, U.S. health authorities said they’re confident both seniors and other vulnerable Americans seeking booster shots and parents anticipating approval of initial shots for young children will have easy access. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — All civilians who work for the Defense Department and the military services must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Nov. 22, under new guidelines released Monday.

A memo signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks on Friday said the new mandate is in line with the presidential directive issued last month requiring federal agencies to implement vaccine requirements.

“Vaccinating (department) civilian employees against COVID-19 will save lives and allow for the defense of our Nation,” said Hicks. “Thank you for your focus on this critical mission.”

The memo lays out a schedule for the two-shot and one-shot vaccines.

The Pentagon earlier this year required all members of the military to get vaccines, and each service set up its own dates for the active duty and reserves to comply with the mandate. Those getting the FDA approved Pfizer vaccine must get their first doze by Oct. 18, and their second dose by Nov. 8. Those getting the Moderna vaccine must get their first dose by Oct. 11 and their second dose by Nov. 8. And those getting the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine must get vaccinated by Nov. 8.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second shot, or after the single Johnson and Johnson shot. The Moderna and J&J vaccines are authorized for emergency use.

The memo says those who had COVID-19 infections are “not considered fully vaccinated” for the purposes of the mandate.

Each of the military services released its own deadlines for their personnel to get the vaccines. Army active-duty soldiers must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15, and Army Reserve and National Guard by June 30, 2022.

Navy active-duty must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 28, and Navy Reserve by Dec. 28. The Marine Corp has similar dates at the end of November for active duty and the end of December for Reserves.

Active-duty members of the Air Force and Space Force must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 2, and Guard and Reserve personnel by Dec. 2.

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