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Pentagon officially ends military COVID vax mandate

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III briefs the media on Afghanistan, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Aug. 18, 2021. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
January 10, 2023

The Pentagon officially rescinded the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Tuesday, according to a Department of Defense memo signed by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

The memo stated that “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 military will also end all ongoing reviews of such requests, removing any adverse actions associated with denials.  

“The Department will continue to promote and encourage COVID-19 vaccination for all Service members,” the memo stated. “The Department has made COVID-19 vaccination as easy and convenient as possible, resulting in vaccines administered to over two million Service members and 96 percent of the force ― Active and Reserve ― being fully vaccinated.”

READ MORE: Half of US thinks COVID vax caused unexplained deaths: Poll

For service members who were already discharged for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, the memo only noted that the Department is “precluded by law from awarding any characterization less than a general (under honorable conditions) discharge.”

“Former service members may petition their Military Department’s Discharge Review Boards and Boards for Correction of Military or Naval Records to individually request a correction to their personal records, including records regarding the characterization of their discharge,” it added.  

Austin wrote that he is “deeply proud” of the Department’s efforts “to combat the coronavirus disease.”

“Through your leadership, we have improved the health of our Service members and the readiness of the Force, and we have provided life-saving assistance to the American people and surged support to local health care systems and agencies at all levels of government,” the memo stated.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.