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Deadlines Set for All Service Members' Vaccinations Against COVID

A female airman being injected into her arm with her first COVID-19  vaccination at Barksdale Air Force Base, Shreveport, Louisiana Sept. 9, 2021. An airman receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Barksdale Air Force Base, Shreveport, Louisiana, Sept. 9, 2021, to adhere to the Secretary of Defense memorandum dated Aug. 24, 2021. Service members are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, or two weeks after receiving a single dose of a one-dose vaccine.

Last week, the Army, Navy and Air Force finalized their deadlines for all service members in the active duty forces, Reserves and National Guard to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The final service announcement Sept. 14 from the Army follows an Aug. 24 order from Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin, III, that all uniformed personnel be mandated to receive the shot.

The FDA-approved COMIRNATY (COVID-19 Vaccine, mRNA) and the FDA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) have the same formulation and can be used interchangeably to provide the COVID-19 vaccination series.

Consistent with FDA guidance, DOD health care providers will use both the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine interchangeably for the purpose of vaccinating service members.

As of Sept. 14, "more than 80% of active duty soldiers have received at least their first dose," said Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Terence Kelley. "These dates are readiness goals, and as with any other readiness requirement, soldiers are required to receive the vaccine when it is available and directed by their commander," Kelley said. The same criteria apply across all services.

For Army reservists and the National Guard, the deadline for full vaccination is June 30, 2022. That date appears to take into account the fact that many guard troops are meeting virtually and that to vaccinate them against COVID-19 will take a less straight-line logistics effort.

The deadline for the Air Force is Nov. 2 for active duty airmen and Dec. 2 for reserves and the Air National Guard.

The Navy deadline is Nov. 28 for active duty sailors and marines, while the reservists date is Dec. 28.

The Army deadline for all active duty service members is Dec. 15.

The services are each handling their own logistics for vaccinations.

Service members will be deemed fully vaccinated 14 days after each receives his or her second vaccination with Pfizer's or Moderna's two-shot vaccines, or 14 days after a single dose of the Janssen vaccine.

"This is quite literally a matter of life and death for our soldiers, their families and the communities in which we live," said Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle. "Case counts and deaths continue to be concerning as the Delta variant spreads, which makes protecting the force through mandatory vaccination a health and readiness priority for the total Army."

Each service is also handling requests for exemption from the COVID-19 vaccines for religious, health, or administrative reasons.

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