Department of Defense formally rescinds COVID-19 vaccine mandate for military

The Air Force's mandate, in particular, was on pause amid a legal challenge from service members who claim they were wrongfully denied religious exemptions.

Updated: December 29, 2022 - 7:00pm

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The Department of Defense has rescinded its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for military service after Congress sent the National Defense Authorization Act to President Joe Biden's desk that included a provision repealing it.

"Section 525 of the FY23 NDAA requires the Secretary of Defense to rescind the mandate that members of the U.S. Armed Forces be vaccinated against COVID-19 pursuant to the Secretary’s memorandum dated August 24, 2021," read a press guidance from the department. "The Department will fully implement this requirement."

Both President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had opposed repealing the mandate, though Republicans managed to extract the concession from congressional Democrats and Biden did not veto the measure.

The Air Force's mandate, in particular, was on pause amid a legal challenge from service members who claim they were wrongfully denied religious exemptions.

In the press guidance, the Pentagon confirmed that 8,123 service members had been discharged because of their refusal to get the vaccine, but that none had received an "other than honorable" discharge solely for doing so.