Secretary of Defense in favor of retaining the vaccine mandate, while the GOP pushes to rescind it
At a time when COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing across the country and still posing a serious threat to the healthcare system, nearly two dozen Republican governors are proposing the vaccination requirement be removed.
The vaccine mandate has been the object of intense opposition from Republican conservatives. They are putting pressure on President Biden to remove the vaccine mandate and sent a letter last week saying that the mandate in place is making recruitment of the United States National Guard more difficult.
But despite the Republicans’ pressure, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he supports the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for the military, claiming it contributes to maintaining the service members’ health.
“We lost a million people to this virus. A million people died in the United States of America. We lost hundreds in DOD. So this mandate has kept people healthy,” Austin said. He also added he will continue to be in favor of the vaccine mandate for the military.
Austin issued a memorandum last year directing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for service members, adding that those who refuse to get the shot will be expelled from the military. Since then, according to government data, thousands of members who refused vaccination were discharged. But federal courts this year have blocked military services from punishing personnel who have refused the vaccines on religious grounds.