Department of the Air Force announces COVID vaccine guidelines for airmen, guardians

U.S. and World

TOPSHOT – US soldiers board an US Air Force aircraft at the airport in Kabul on August 30, 2021. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP) (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (WDTN) –  The Department of the Air Force released guidelines for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for active-duty airmen and Space Force guardians.

According to a release, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall gave the COVID-19 vaccine implementation guidelines for the department’s total force military members on Sept. 3.

The service implementation plan requires airmen and guardians to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the following dates, unless seeking an exemption:

  • Nov. 2 – Active Duty personnel
  • Dec. 2 – Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel

“We are taking an aggressive approach to protect our service members, their families and their communities from COVID-19 and the highly transmissible Delta variant,” said Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones. “As members of the nation’s Armed Forces, our Airmen and Guardians must be able to respond to situations around the globe—being fully vaccinated will help us safely meet the readiness requirements that our national security depends on.”

Mandatory vaccination through a military provider will initially only include the Pfizer vaccine, which is currently the only vaccine approved by the FDA, according to a release. Airmen and guardians may continue to volunteer to receive the other COVID-19 vaccines approved under Emergency Use Authorization, from both military and civilian providers.

Service members have the option to apply for medical or administrative exemption, including religious accommodations. 

The department said any refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, without an approved exemption or accommodation, may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). 

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