Comply with COVID military vaccinate mandate, US defense chief says
- US News
- December 4, 2022
- No Comment
ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) — Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he wants to keep the military’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate to protect the health of troops as Republican governors and lawmakers push to lift it.
Last week, more than 20 Republican governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging the administration to rescind the mandate, saying it has hampered the US National Guard’s ability to recruit troops. These troops are activated by governors to respond to natural disasters or civil unrest.
Congress could consider legislation next week to end the mandate to garner enough support to pass this year’s defense budget, which is already two months late.
FILE – Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a press conference at the Pentagon November 3, 2022 in Washington. The US is at a crucial juncture with China and will need military strength to ensure American values, not Beijing’s, set global norms in the 21st century, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Saturday, December 3, 2022. Austin’s speech ahead The Reagan National Defense Forum capped a week in which the Pentagon focused squarely on China’s rise and what that might mean for America’s position in the world. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, file)
Austin said he will not comment on the mound’s pressure.
“We’ve lost a million people to this virus,” Austin told reporters traveling with him on Saturday. “A million people died in the United States of America. We lost hundreds in DOD. So this mandate has kept people sane.”
“I’m the guy” who ordered the military to demand the vaccine, Austin added. “I support the continuation of the vaccination of the troops.”
Last year Austin ordered all troops to receive the vaccine or possibly be expelled from the military; Thousands of active responders have since been fired for refusing to take the shots.