San Francisco Chronicle
Pentagon chief vows swift action on vaccine directive
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is vowing to move quickly as the department begins to implement new vaccine and testing directives.
Pentagon officials are attempting to implement the changes across the vast military population and determining which National Guard and Reserve troops will be affected by the orders.
The Pentagon has two missions: It must develop plans to make the vaccine mandatory for the military, and implement new requirements for federal workers who will have to either attest to a COVID19 vaccination or face frequent testing and travel restrictions.
According to the Pentagon, more than 1 million service members are fully vaccinated and another 233,000 have gotten at least one shot. There are roughly 2 million active duty, Guard and Reserve troops.
While the number of COVID19 deaths across the military has remained small — largely attributed to the age and health of the force — cases of the virus have been increasing.
As of last week, there have been more than 208,600 coronavirus cases among members of the U.S. military. Of those, more than 1,800 have been hospitalized and 28 have died. Two Navy sailors died in the last week.