Pentagon drops COVID-19 vaccine mandate for troops

FORT KNOX, KY - SEPTEMBER 09: A Preventative Medicine Services technician fills a syringe with a Janssen COVID-19 vaccine on September 9, 2021 in Fort Knox, Kentucky. The Pentagon, with the support of military leaders and U.S. President Joe Biden, mandated COVID-19 vaccination for all military service members in early September. The Pentagon stresses inoculation from COVID-19 and other diseases to avoid outbreaks from impeding the fighting force of the US Military. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
A Preventative Medicine Services technician fills a syringe with a Janssen COVID-19 vaccine on September 9, 2021 in Fort Knox, Kentucky. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

OAN Sophia Flores
UPDATED 5:23 PM PT – Tuesday, January 10, 2023

The Pentagon has formally dropped its COVID-19 mandate for troops.  

The mandate was dropped on Tuesday. This decision had been expected to come from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin since December 23rd, when legislation signed into law allowed him 30 days to rescind the mandate. This comes nearly two years after Austin put the mandate into effect in August 2021.

“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.”

The Defense Department ceased discharging troops who refuse to get the shot.

The political issue has caused over 8,500 troops to be discharged from the military due to the refusal to get the vaccine. In addition, thousands of troops have applied for a medical exemption. The new memo ends exemption requests.

Currently, it’s believed that 99% of activity-duty troops in the Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Corps have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Only 90% of troops in the Guard and Reserve have received the vaccine.