Keep the mandate of the military vaccine against COVID, says the Chief of Defense – KGET 17

from: TARA COPP, Associated Press

Published: Dec 3, 2022 / 5:31 PM PST

Updated: Dec 3, 2022 / 5:31 PM PST

IN THE U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he wants to keep the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place to protect the health of troops, as Republican governors and lawmakers push to repeal it.

Last week, more than 20 Republican governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking the administration to end the mandate, saying it hurt the US National Guard’s ability to recruit troops. Governors activate these troops to respond to natural disasters or riots.

Congress could consider end-of-term legislation this week as a condition for gathering enough support to pass this year’s defense budget, which is already two months behind schedule.

Austin said he would not comment on the pressure from Hill.

“We’ve lost a million people to this virus,” Austin told reporters traveling with him on Saturday. “A million people died in the United States of America. We lost hundreds in the DOD. So this mandate has kept people healthy.”

“I’m the guy” who ordered the military to demand the vaccine, Austin added. “I support continuing to vaccinate soldiers.”

Last year, Austin ordered that all troops receive the vaccine or face potential expulsion from the military; thousands of active duty personnel have since been discharged for refusing to take hits.

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