The Pentagon is officially dropping the COVID-19 vaccination mandate and military departments will update records to “remove any adverse actions solely associated with denials of such requests, including letters of reprimand.” The various Secretaries of the military departments will also cease any ongoing reviews of current service members seeking exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a memo, found in full below, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin rescinded the August 24, 2021 memorandum mandating that members of the Armed Forces under Department of Defense authority be vaccinated against COVID-19, and the memorandum of November 30, 2021, pertaining to the vaccination of National Guard and Reserve personnel.
“No individuals currently serving in the Armed Forces shall be separated solely on the basis of their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccination if they sought an accommodation on religious, administrative, or medical grounds,” the memo said.
This rescission requirement was established by the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023.
Secretary Austin said he was “deeply proud” of the efforts combating the coronavirus disease. Senior military leadership was reminded that the health and readiness of the Force are crucial to the Department’s ability to defend our nation. Secretary Austin still continues to encourage all Service members, civilian employees, and contractor personnel to get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 to ensure Total Force readiness.
“The Department’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts will leave a lasting legacy in the many lives we saved, the world-class Force we have been able to field, and the high level of readiness we have maintained, amidst difficult public health conditions,” Secretary Austin added.
Other standing military policies, procedures, and processes regarding immunizations remain in effect. The full military COVID-19 vaccine mandate rescission memorandum can be found here: