MILITARY MATTERS: Small Percentage of Soldiers on Fort Benning Not Vaccinated for COVID, Ahead of Deadline

Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 6:46 PM EST
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FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) - Despite the Pentagon’s COVID vaccine mandate, approximately 27,000 members of the Marines, Air Force, Space Force and the Navy are still considered unvaccinated. We got an update from Fort Benning, as 19,000 soldiers in the entire Army are running out of time to still get their shot.

Less than a week out from the December 15 deadline for uniformed members of the Army to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Fort Benning’s commanding general says all its active duty soldiers will meet that criteria, unless they have an approved exemption.

In a statement sent to us, Major General Patrick Donahoe said “Fort Benning has made COVID-19 vaccines part of our normal medical readiness requirements and began mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations of Soldiers.”

In late August, when the Secretary of Defense enacted the mandate, less than half of soldiers on Fort Benning had gotten the COVID shot, but there’s been a big jump. As of November 30, at least 92% of Fort Benning military personnel had started or completed the vaccination process.

MG Donahoe also said in a statement, “Orders to receive the mandatory vaccine are lawful. Soldiers who refuse the vaccine order will first be counseled by their chain of command and medical providers, and face a mandatory general officer reprimand and potential relief of duties. Soldiers have the ability to request an exemption from receiving the vaccine, if they have a valid medical, religious or administrative reason.”

A local military chaplain tells us more than 16,000 active duty Army have asked for exemptions, and chaplains on post interview soldiers about religious exemptions, to get insight on their sincerity and more. Army reservists have more time to get the COVID vaccine, with a deadline of June 30.

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