army

Hundreds of Thousands of U.S. Troops Still Not Fully Vaccinated Despite Looming Deadlines

Depending on the service, U.S. troops have up to a couple of months or as little as just three weeks to get fully vaccinated before they are ordered out, but reports suggest that hundreds of thousands have still only had one dose of a Covid vaccine or no doses at all. RT has the story.

In August, members of the U.S. military services were informed that immunisation against Covid would be required as part of new directives from President Joe Biden. According to data analyzed in a Washington Post report, however, inoculation rates among America’s more than two million soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are lagging in many areas.

Deadlines for individual services vary, but many are facing a situation where only weeks remain to get thousands of personnel to agree to being jabbed. The Marine Corps and Navy are both facing November 28th deadlines, but the former has a 72% vaccination rate, while the latter has a much higher 90% rate. The Air Force, on the other hand, has just three weeks to get approximately 60,000 personnel fully jabbed. 

The rate in the active-duty Army stands at 81%, though it’s the Army Reserve and National Guard that have truly lagged. Those branches, which number over 500,000 people, have vaccination rates of approximately 40%. Those on active-duty are facing a December 15th deadline, but Guard and Reserve members do not have to comply until June 30th. …

Some have questioned the military’s long deadlines, especially for the Guard and Reserve, and whether they will impact readiness. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) called the June deadline “jarring” and said it would leave room for thousands of troops to “not be deployable”. …

Military officials have previously stated that no soldier will be allowed to be on federal orders and to leave their home station without being vaccinated first. 

It remains to be seen how many soldiers will actually defy the vaccine mandate – or what would happen to them if they do – but other industries are already seeing the impact, with hospitals and airlines reportedly facing staffing issues stemming from employees unhappy with vaccine mandates.

Worth reading in full.

Covid Vaccine Could Become Mandatory for Troops in U.S. Military

U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to recommend that vaccination against Covid should be mandated for all 1.3 million active-duty military troops, with the final decision lying with President Joe Biden. The shift in position is believed to have occurred because of fears over the Delta variant. The New York Times has the story.

Biden announced last week that all federal employees and on-site contractors must be vaccinated against Covid, or be required to submit to regular testing and other measures. The requirement extended to the 766,372 civilians working for the Defense Department, but not active-duty service members.

That could soon change, administration and military officials said on Tuesday. Austin, who recently returned to the United States from a trip to Asia, has asked the military services to report on how and when they would go about putting a mandate in place. Mr Austin has previously said that he would not be comfortable with a mandate until the vaccines are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but officials and executives across the board are rethinking their position as the Delta variant surges.

The FDA plans to fully approve the Pfizer Covid vaccine, one of the most widely used vaccinations, by early next month, people familiar with the effort have said. The move will lead to more vaccination mandates across the country, but officials say Mr Austin is not expected to wait for final approval before making his recommendation. …

About 64% of active-duty military members are fully vaccinated, above the 60% of Americans over 18 who are fully vaccinated. But for the military, the rate is unacceptably low, raising issues of readiness should cases rise among service members. It is also difficult to deploy troops who have not been vaccinated to countries with stringent local restrictions.

Beyond readiness, a big part of the push for a mandate for the military centers on the belief that service members could set an example for their families and friends in states where vaccine hesitancy has been higher.

“When people see that these guys got the vaccine and nothing happened to them, that could be decisive,” said Dr Ezekiel J Emanuel, a Bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania who advised Mr Biden during his transition.

“People admire our military,” he said. “They can serve as a positive example.”

Worth reading in full.

Australia Uses Helicopters and the Army to Enforce Lockdown Rules

The enforcement of lockdown rules in Australia has jumped to another level, with the army knocking on doors to check that people who have tested positive are self-isolating and helicopters blaring the message: “This is public health order – do not break rules – you will be found and fines issued.”

Police are also checking IDs to ensure that citizens are not outside their ‘exercise radius‘, and those not wearing face masks are being hit with $500 fines. MailOnline has more.

[On Sautrday], up to 1,300 police officers swarmed Sydney and set up a network of roadblocks in a massive show of force to avoid a repeat of last week’s violent anti-lockdown protest.

Some 250 fines, each worth $500, were issued across the city today, with one man arrested after travelling on trains outside his local Government area without a reasonable excuse.

It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison had launched a four-stage plan back to freedom but said 80% of adults would have to be vaccinated before the border can begin to open.

Sydney’s five million people are under a strict stay-at-home order because of a worrying surge of nearly 3,000 infections since the middle of June.

Authorities have this week outlined even tighter restrictions for some worst-affected suburbs, including mandatory testing and mask-wearing outdoors. 

From Monday, some 300 army personnel will help police go door to door to ensure people who have tested positive are isolating. 

New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told a news conference: “The sheer volume of increase over the last week, the level of compliance has gone from hundreds into thousands.”

The military personnel will not be armed and will be under police command, he said. …

[Australia] is faced with the spread of the much more infectious Indian variant that is proving able to overcome lockdown measures. Many highly vaccinated countries are now re-opening, but Australia is sticking to its ‘Zero Covid’ strategy while its vaccine drive lags behind the rest of the world.   

Sydney’s latest surge of cases has been traced back to an unmasked, unvaccinated airport driver who got infected last month. Since then, Australia’s biggest city has reported 13 deaths.

Worth reading in full.