The U.S. Air Force (USAF) announced all active-duty airmen and Space Force guardians need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 2 and Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel have until Dec. 2.
Mandatory vaccinations through a military provider will only include the Pfizer vaccine, as it is currently the only shot that has received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, airmen and guardians may also volunteer to receive the other COVID-19 vaccines approved under Emergency Use Authorization, “including Moderna, Janssen, and AstraZeneca, from both military and civilian providers,” according to the USAF’s press 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.”
Service members can apply for an exemption for medical or religious reasons. The USAF will not allow airmen and guardians to apply for an exemption solely based on if they have an approved retirement or separation date.
Those service members who refuse to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, excluding those with exemptions, “may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Military commanders retain the full range of disciplinary options available to them under the UCMJ.”
The Pentagon announced all service members would be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after the Pfizer vaccine received its full FDA approval on Aug. 23.