Pentagon pauses civilian vaccine mandate after federal court ruling

·2 min read
The Pentagon is seen on Thursday, November 4, 2021 in Arlington, Va.
The Pentagon is seen on Thursday, November 4, 2021 in Arlington, Va.

The Department of Defense is pausing its vaccine mandate for civilian employees following a ruling from a federal judge in Texas blocking President Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.

"The Department has issued guidance pausing all activities related to processing civilian vaccination exemption requests and any disciplinary actions for failure to become vaccinated for federal civilian workers," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Thursday.

"This guidance ensures compliance with a nationwide preliminary injunction order issued on Friday the 21st of January by the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas," he continued.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in October ordered all 700,000 civilian department employees to be vaccinated by Nov. 22 to comply with Biden's executive order on federal workers, which he announced a month prior.

The most recent data available from the Pentagon's website indicates that 341,836 civilian personnel are now fully vaccinated, while 50,710 are partially vaccinated.

Judge Jeffrey Brown issued an injunction last Friday barring the federal government from enforcing the mandate for federal workers.

Brown said the case was about "whether the President can, with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress, require millions of federal employees to undergo a medical procedure as a condition of their employment."

The Department of Justice has said it will appeal the order.

Kirby stressed, however, that Brown's ruling doesn't apply to service members or impact any other health protection measures the Pentagon has in place.

"This injunction does not extend to military members or to the department's other force health protection measures such as masking, test - keep testing, physical distancing and travel limitations," he said.

Overall, 1.6 million service members have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, while 339,369 have been partially vaccinated.

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