Pentagon drops Covid-19 vaccine mandate for troops – POLITICO

by | Jan 10, 2023 | COVID-19

The contentious political issue, which has divided America, forced more than 8,400 troops out of the military for refusing to obey a lawful order when they declined to get the vaccine. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

By Associated Press
01/10/2023 08:22 PM EST

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon formally dropped its Covid-19 vaccination mandate Tuesday, but a new memo signed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also gives commanders some discretion in how or whether to deploy troops who are not vaccinated.
Austin’s memo has been widely anticipated ever since legislation signed into law on Dec. 23 gave him 30 days to rescind the mandate. The Defense Department had already stopped all related personnel actions, such as discharging troops who refused the shot.

“The Department will continue to promote and encourage Covid-19 vaccination for all service members,” Austin said in the memo. “Vaccination enhances operational readiness and protects the force.”

Austin said that commanders have the authority to maintain unit readiness and a healthy force. He added, however, that other department policies — including mandates for other vaccines — remain in place. That includes, he said, “the ability of commanders to consider, as appropriate, the individual immunization status of personnel in making deployment, assignment, and other operational decisions, including when vaccination is required for travel to, or entry into, a foreign nation.”
The contentious political issue, which has divided America, forced more than 8,400 troops out of the military for refusing to obey a lawful order when they declined to get the vaccine. Thousands of others sought religious and medical exemptions. Austin’s memo ends those exemption requ …

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