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Inside the Gates: Deadlines for American troops to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 9:00 AM AKDT|Updated: Nov. 3, 2021 at 1:15 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Time has run out for thousands of Air Force personnel to continue their career in military service. They had until Nov. 2 to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Alaska Air National Guard and Air Force reserves had their deadline extended to Dec. 2.

Active duty Marines and U.S. Navy sailors, meanwhile, face a Nov. 28 deadline to be fully vaccinated, while reservists have until Dec. 28.

Dec. 15 is the deadline for active duty Army soldiers. Those in Alaska, along with other Army National Guard and reserve soldiers have until June 30, 2022, to be fully immunized. Even though they are technically state employees, Alaska Army and Air National Guard troops also fall under national command.

“I’ve taken it myself,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III back on Aug. 24, when he issued the mandate. “After talking with my doctor, I believed it was the right thing to do.”

The Associated Press reported on Nov. 1 that 60,000 active duty troops remained unvaccinated. The Navy had the fewest, with just 1% of its personnel unvaccinated. The Air Force and Space Force followed at 3.6%, the Army at 6% and the Marines with 7% still unvaccinated at that time.

The troops can request an exemption for medical, religious and administrative reasons, and decisions will be made on a “case-by-case” basis. Those who deny the request and still refuse the vaccine face various forms of punishment, including a discharge for disobeying a direct order.

“We want to make sure that all of you have the information that you need to make the best decisions for your families,” Austin said.

Civilian employees within the Defense Department who have yet to be properly vaccinated have until Nov. 22 to comply with the mandate, or they could be fired.

This article has been updated to reflect that the deadline for Air Force personnel to be vaccinated has passed.

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