Hundreds of Thousands of U.S. Troops Not Vaccinated as Deadline Approaches

( Despite mandates to do so, there are still reportedly hundreds of thousands of service members in the U.S. who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

This is happening as the first deadlines for the vaccine from the Department of Defense are quickly approaching.

According to a Washington Post report, 90% of the members of the Navy are currently fully vaccinated. The Army and Air Force clock in next with 81% fully vaccinated for both branches of the military. The Marine Corps is last with 76.5% of its members fully vaccinated to this point.

The first branch to have a deadline is the Air Force. All members of that military branch must be fully vaccinated by November 2. To date, there are more than 60,000 personnel classified as active duty who aren’t vaccinated.

By November 28, members of the Navy and Marines must fully vaccinated. This might prove to be a major issue for both branches, but especially for the Marine Corps, which is lagging the Navy by 13.5% in vaccinations.

The Marine Corps has 180,100 members who are active duty, while the Navy has 345,200.

Reserves and the National Guard both are lagging much further behind the four major military branches, but a big reason for that is they have a much later vaccination deadline. The Army reserves and National Guard, for example, must be fully vaccinated by June 30 of 2022. The Post reports that their vaccination rates currently sit at 40% and 38.5%, respectively.

The reason for the much later vaccination deadlines for these groups is because of how large and dispersed geographically the units are, according to Lieutenant Colonel Terence M. Kelly, a spokesman for the Army, in a statement.

Roughly half of the reserves for the Army haven’t been able to get a vaccination from a military health clinic simply because they don’t live near one, Kelley said. In the statement, he added:

“We expect all unvaccinated soldiers to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. Individual soldiers are required to receive the vaccine when available.”

He also said the June deadlines “allow reserve component units necessary time to update records and process exemption requests.”

Any reservist or National Guardsman for the Army who are mobilized by a federal order after the December 15 vaccine deadline for active duty members have to be fully vaccinated before they leave their home station.

This could present a major logistical problem in the future, if a large number of reservists or National Guardsmen remain unvaccinated beyond that December 15 deadline.

Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said the June deadline was “jarring.” He told the Post:

“I think the Army needs to take this seriously and their effort to explain away the problem [is irresponsible]. You’re allowing a lot of room for people not to be deployable.”