Defense Secretary Austin wants to keep COVID-19 vaccine mandate for troops

The defense secretary did not comment on the military's low recruitment numbers or the amount of troops discharged for not getting the vaccine.

Updated: December 4, 2022 - 5:07pm

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says he wants to keep the vaccine mandate for the United States armed forces, despite calls from Republicans and some Democrats to get rid of it due to low recruitment and high discharge numbers. 

On Nov. 30, more than 20 GOP governors sent a letter to the Biden administration arguing that due to the mandate it has been hard to recruit and keep troops for the military and the National Guard. 

"We ask you to take immediate action to remove and prohibit the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on members of the U.S. Armed Forces, issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on August 24, 2021—either through the National Defense Authorization Act or a standalone bill," the letter read. "The Biden vaccine mandate on our military creates a national security risk that severely impacts our defense capabilities abroad and our state readiness here at home."

The letter was signed by GOP governors, including Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Greg Abbott of Texas and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

Secretary Austin told reporters during a press conference that he did not support getting rid of the vaccine for the military. 

"We lost a million people to this virus," Austin told reporters. "A million people died in the United States of America. We lost hundreds in DOD. So this mandate has kept people healthy."

"I'm the guy who ordered the military to require the vaccine," Austin continued. "I support continuation of vaccinating the troops."

The defense secretary did not comment on the military's low recruitment numbers or the amount of troops discharged for not getting the vaccine, according to the Epoch Times.

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