Nov. 3 marked the Department of the Air Force’s deadline for active duty component Airmen and Guardians to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As of publication, nearly 97% of Airmen and Guardians on active duty have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Our Airmen need to be prepared to operate anytime, anywhere in the world,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. “Getting vaccinated ensures we are a ready force to meet our commitments to the nation while protecting the health of our team and families.”
Since the Secretary of Defense’s mandate Aug. 24, the Department of the Air Force set the most aggressive timelines amongst the military services to ensure members are vaccinated.
“I am incredibly proud of our Airmen for coming together and getting vaccinated,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “This is about readiness and ensuring our Air Force can continue to defend the homeland. It’s also about understanding that we are not in the clear yet. Continuing safe practices to protect ourselves and others should always be in our cross-check.”
The majority of the active component was vaccinated prior to the Aug. 24 mandate. After the mandate, installation Military Treatment Facilities rapidly scaled up vaccination efforts in order to meet the Nov. 2 deadline for the remainder of the force. Many MTFs stood up mass vaccination procedures capable of administering thousands of shots a day.
“Thank you to our active-duty Guardians and Airmen for moving out quickly to meet the Department’s vaccine timeline,” said Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond. “Although we are encouraged by the falling number of cases, COVID-19 is still a very real threat. We need each and every one of you to be healthy and ready; we need you and your loved ones to be protected so our team can continue to protect and defend the nation.”
Chief Master Sgt. of the Space Force Roger A. Towberman echoed DAF senior leadership appreciation for all those who got vaccinated, as well as those who made it possible – to include DAF medical personnel who worked tirelessly to vaccinate nearly 100,000 Airmen and Guardians in just over two months.
“This took leadership and teamwork at all levels,” Towberman said. “I’m proud of our Guardians for their commitment to our readiness and each other, and thankful for all our Airmen enablers who made this happen.”
Over the next 30 days, the Department of the Air Force will review requests for medical exemptions and religious accommodations. Air Force civilians have until Nov. 22 to be fully vaccinated, and Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members in a Reserve component status must be vaccinated by Dec. 2.
COVID-19 screening testing will be required at least weekly for all individuals entering a DOD facility who are not fully vaccinated, including those who have an exemption request under review, or who are exempted from COVID-I9 vaccination.
Units will be responsible for running self-test programs and can reach out to either the Defense Logistics Agency Contact Center or their servicing MTF for assistance with ordering and purchasing the self-test kits. Additional guidance will be forthcoming through command channels.