W.Va. National Guard Soldiers Face COVID-19 Vaccination Deadline
Last year, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered all military service members to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Austin said it was critical to maintain the health and readiness of the force. The military services had various deadlines for their forces.
The Army National Guard, with 330,000 widely scattered soldiers was given the most time. After Thursday, June 30, 2022, guard soldiers not vaccinated will not get paid when activated for duty.
The Associated Press reported this week that up to 40,000 Army National Guard soldiers, about 13 percent of the force, have not gotten the mandated vaccine and at least 14,000 have flatly refused, facing possible dismissal.
Maj. Holli Nelson with the West Virginia National Guard said they are sitting at a 95 percent vaccination rate for the Air National Guard and 94 percent rate for the Army National Guard.
Nelson said they continue to work with their personnel on documentation, education and awareness for the COVID-19 vaccine, and the numbers can change daily.
The Associated Press report said between 20 and 30 percent of guard soldiers in six states have not been vaccinated and more than 10 percent in 43 other states still need shots.
Guard leaders said they will work with the roughly 7,000 soldiers across the country who have sought vaccine exemptions, nearly all for religious reasons.