Army says National Guard, reserve forces must be vaccinated to participate in drills

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The Army on Friday announced members of its National Guard and Reserve components must be in compliance with its COVID-19 vaccine mandate to participate in drills.

In a statement, the service said members who have refused to be vaccinated without an approved or pending exemption cannot participate in federally funded training and will not receive pay or retirement credit.

The deadline for members of the Army National Guard or Reserve to be vaccinated passed on Thursday. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin mandated vaccinations for the military in August 2021 but allowed each service to implement its own deadlines.

The deadline for active-component Army personnel to be in compliance was Dec. 15, but reservists and Army National Guard members had until June 30 to be vaccinated.

The service allows soldiers to request exemptions for medical or religious reasons, which are approved on a case-by-case basis.

Eighty-nine percent of the Army National Guard has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Army’s statement, while 87 percent are fully inoculated.

Similarly, 89 percent of the Army Reserve has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 88 percent are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, 97 percent of the Army’s active-duty component are fully vaccinated. The Army began separating unvaccinated active-duty soldiers in February and has separated 1,148 soldiers.

In its statement, the Army said soldiers who refuse the order without an approved or pending exemption are subject to “adverse administrative actions,” like bars to service and official reprimands.

Moving forward, soldiers who continue to refuse vaccination without an exemption may face additional adverse action, including separation.

Unit commanders will be able to activate and pay soldiers for limited purposes like getting vaccinated, processing their exemptions or conducting separations.

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