Only 68 per cent of the US is military is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus with less then five weeks to go before the mandate deadline passes.
About 468,000 – or 32 percent – of the military’s 1.46 million total employees weren’t fully inoculated Wednesday ahead of the November 28 target date for active-duty Navy and Marines.
About 82 percent of the total force has received at least one jab, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, meaning about 263,200 members have yet to receive a single dose of an FDA-approved vacc2ine.
The figures are more promising among the active-duty force, where 97 per cent have received at least one shot and 87 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Active Army troops must be fully inoculated by December 15, while Reserve and National Guard employees have until June 30, 2022 to get the jab, the US Army said.
Kirby told reporters Wednesday that there’s been little resistance to the vaccine.
‘People understand that this is an important program,’ he said. ‘And they’re participating in it.’
There have been 383,560 coronavirus cases and 578 deaths in the military community since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Defense.
Before the mandate, vaccines were optional, but Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle said in August they would become necessary to protect the force.
‘This is quite literally a matter of life and death for our Soldiers, their families and the communities in which we live,’ he said in a press release.
Those who would refuse a COVID shot would be punished, though it wasn’t immediately clear what the repercussions might be.
Soldiers who refuse the vaccine without an exemption could be discharged, Military.com reported.
The Washington Post has reported that defense officials were reluctant to predict how many soldiers would defy the mandate, although Representative Dan Crenshaw, of Texas, tweeted last month that he expects it to be a lot.
‘Question for the SECDEF: Are you really filling to allow a huge exodus of experienced service members just because they won’t take the vaccine,’ he wrote.
‘Honestly, Americans deserve to know how you plan on dealing with this blow to force readiness – it’s already causing serious problems.’
Some Air Force officers have already joined other government workers in lawsuits to halt the requirements, according to the Post.
More than 66 percent of all Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 57.2 percent of the total US population are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.