9Aug, 2022… Read the rest
Since the military services hit their deadlines for troops to be inoculated against COVID-19, they have become increasing entangled in legal woes and face a large roster of outright refusals — mostly from the Army National Guard — as courts block action.
The resulting uncertainty surrounding whether thousands of service members are about to be booted from the military comes as the branches struggle with what some are calling the hardest recruiting environment in a generation. Leaders have been busy lowering expectations for how many Americans will fill the ranks in the near future.
And many service members who have declined to get vaccinated, particularly in the Department of the Navy and Department of the Air Force, are being protected under pending lawsuits for religious exemptions. In response, those services are trying to offer alternative vaccines such as Novavax, which throws cold water on one of the main arguments given by deniers seeking religious exemptions.
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Guard soldiers were ordered to be vaccinated by July 1, far later than most other services. Yet roughly 40,000 of them blew off the Pentagon’s directive. Troops in all branches have been required to be immunized against at least a dozen ailments including the flu and hepatitis for years, with the coronavirus vaccine a rare instance where vaccination has become a political hot potato.
But unlike active-duty formations, there is no policy requiring Guardsmen who refuse vaccination to be separated from service, meaning that the passed deadline has left states uncertain about what steps to take next.
“There is no definitive guidance; no one in the Army has told us how to [separate soldiers],” a senior Guard officer told Military.com on the condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation. “They