All DOD civilians must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22, Pentagon orders
WASHINGTON — All Defense Department civilian employees must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 22, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said in a memorandum issued Monday.
While seven weeks remain until the deadline, Defense Department employees only have until Nov. 8 to receive their final shots. The Pentagon does not consider a person fully vaccinated until two weeks after the last shot in the series is administered.
Two available vaccines — by Moderna and Pfizer — require two shots. Those receiving the Moderna shot must receive their first dose by Oct. 11, and Pfizer recipients by Oct. 18 to be ready for the second dose by Nov. 8.
The Johnson & Johnson shot requires a single dose, which can be taken any time before Nov. 8.
Hicks’ memo did not say what would happen if personnel refuse the shots, but she noted that more guidance is forthcoming, including on possible exemptions for Defense Department employees for medical or religious reasons.
While the vaccinations are given at many public pharmacies and clinics, Defense Department civilian employees are also eligible to receive the shots at any military vaccination site, including military hospitals typically reserved only for troops and their families.
The Pentagon guidance comes after President Joe Biden on Sept. 9 ordered all federal agencies to require their employees get the vaccine “to ensure the health and safety of the federal workforce and members of the public with whom they interact,” according to the memo.
Since the start of the pandemic, 321 Defense Department civilians and 58 service members have died from the coronavirus, according to the DOD, which does not break down the numbers by service.
Once vaccinated, personnel “must be prepared to provide a copy of their vaccine record” to their employers, though Defense Department procedures to verify vaccination status have not yet been announced.
“Vaccinating DOD civilian employees against [the coronavirus] will save lives and allow for the defense of our nation,” Hicks said in the memo.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin required the vaccine for all service members on Aug. 24, one day after the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pfizer shot. The service branches have set individual vaccination deadlines for their troops.
Active-duty soldiers have until Dec. 15 to become fully vaccinated, and Reserve and National Guard units have until June 30, 2022, the Army announced Sept. 14.
Active-duty airmen and Space Force guardians must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 2, Air Force officials announced Sept. 3. Air Force reservists and Guard troops have until Dec. 2 to meet the requirement.
Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro on Aug. 30 ordered active-duty sailors and Marines get the vaccine by Nov. 28 and reservists by Dec. 28.