Air Force sets deadlines for mandatory COVID vaccination

U.S. Air Force Maj. Kito Brooks, 88th Medical Group, podiatrist, receives the COVID-19 vaccine from Capt. Erica Eyer, 88MDG, flight commander, Aerospace Operational Medicine Clinic at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio on Jan. 4, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ty Greenlees)
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U.S. Air Force Maj. Kito Brooks, 88th Medical Group, podiatrist, receives the COVID-19 vaccine from Capt. Erica Eyer, 88MDG, flight commander, Aerospace Operational Medicine Clinic at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio on Jan. 4, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ty Greenlees)

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These dates apply unless members are seeking an exemption, service says.

The Air Force has set deadlines for personnel to receive the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine.

Unless seeking an exemption, active-duty personnel are expected to be “fully vaccinated” by Nov. 2, while Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members are to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 2, the Air Force said earlier this month.

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Wright-Patterson Air Force Base put out its own statement confirming those dates. Service members are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, or two weeks after receiving a single dose of a one-dose vaccine.

“Vaccinations will help ensure service members’ health and safety while preserving the department’s readiness and ability to execute worldwide air and space forces missions,” the Department of the Air Force said in a release.

“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-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 ® vaccine (widely referred to as “Comirnaty®” upon receipt of FDA approval), which is today the only vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Airmen and Guardians may also receive the COVID-19 vaccines approved under FDA emergency use authorization, including Moderna, Janssen and AstraZeneca, from both military and civilian providers.

Airmen and Guardians who have proof of vaccination documented in their medical records, the Air Force said.

More recently, President Biden last week promulgated an order directing all federal agencies to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all federal employees, with exceptions only as required by law.

A union representing federal government employees has voiced support for vaccine mandates, but has also said that changes in working conditions should be negotiated.

Everett Kelley, AFGE national president, said in a statement last week that since Biden made his first major announcement about changing COVID-19 protocols for the federal workforce in response to the delta variant, “We have said that changes like this should be negotiated with our bargaining units where appropriate. Put simply, workers deserve a voice in their working conditions.”

A message seeking comment was left with a representative of AFGE Council 214 at Wright-Patterson.

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