DOD says service members must be vaccinated or face consequences

Posted at 5:17 PM, Dec 21, 2021

Defense Department officials say service members who refuse to get vaccinated will face consequences.

About 98% of the active-duty force has received the COVID-19 vaccine. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has mandated that all service members must receive vaccines, including all reserve component members.

"It is a lawful order," Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said today. "It is a valid military requirement to get the vaccine. And it does apply, as we've said before, to members of the National Guard."

Unless there is an approved exemption, National Guardsmen who refuse to get the shots face repercussions and consequences. This includes loss of pay or the loss of the ability to train. Those who continue to disobey will face discharge.

Air National Guard personnel have until the end of the year to get the vaccinations. Army Guardsmen have until June 2022.

"It's our expectation that the chain of command for every Guardsman — just like the chain of command for every active-duty member of the armed forces — … will manage the mandatory vaccine requirement appropriately," Kirby said. "If they don't, then they, too, can be held to account under the for failure to obey a lawful order."

The White House has announced a plan to deploy 1,000 military health care professionals to hardest hit areas soon.