U.S. Army members who don’t get a COVID-19 vaccine will be blocked from being promoted and could eventually be ousted from the service, according to a new memorandum from a top Army official.
Soldiers who refuse to get vaccinated, as ordered to do so in September, will be “flagged,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in a memo this week obtained by The Epoch Times.
That means they can’t re-enlist, be promoted, apply for or receive tuition assistance, or be reassigned.
The new guidance applies to soldiers who remain unvaccinated and have not received an exemption, or still have an exemption request pending.
The Army has not approved a religious exemption request from vaccination requirements since at least 2019, according to recent court documents. It’s unclear how many have been granted temporary or permanent medical exemptions.
Approximately 25,000 active-duty personnel remained unvaccinated as of Nov. 10. That’s about 6 percent of the active-duty force.
Including reserve and Guard personnel, about 17 percent remain unvaccinated.
Army officials had announced in the Sept. 14 vaccination order that only two actions could be taken against soldiers who refuse to comply with the order, the initiation of a letter of reprimand, which could have “very serious consequences,” and a flag that suspends “favorable personnel actions,” including promotion.
“The Army’s updated guidance extends the flagging action until the soldier is fully vaccinated, receives an approved medical or administrative exemption, or is separated from the Army. Commanders are also authorized to now impose bars to continued service for unvaccinated soldiers who are not pending final decision on an exemption request,” an Army spokesman told The Epoch Times in an email.
The memo came after Oklahoma’s Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino, Oklahoma’s adjutant general, issued an order stating no guardsmen in the state have to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Pentagon officials later said that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s vaccine order overrides those issued on the state level.
Active-duty soldiers have until Dec. 15 to become “fully vaccinated.” That term at present refers to getting two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson jab, and at least two weeks elapsing following the final shot of a regimen.
Reserve and National Guard units have been given until June 30, 2022, to become fully vaccinated.
However, Army officials have said that the reserve and Guard components will reach a minimum of 90 percent vaccinated by April 1, 2022.
Officials say the vaccine mandate is required to protect the military against COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“Case counts and deaths continue to be concerning as the Delta variant spreads, which makes protecting the force through mandatory vaccination a health and readiness priority for the total Army,” Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the Army Surgeon General, said in a statement when the order was issued.