Keep COVID Military Vaccine Mandate, Defense Chief Says

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin introduces the B-21 Raider stealth at Northrop Grumman Friday, Dec. 2, 2022, in Palmdale, Calif. America’s newest nuclear stealth bomber made its debut Friday after years of secret development and as part of the Pentagon’s answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China. The B-21 Raider is the first new American bomber aircraft in more than 30 years. Almost every aspect of the program is classified. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he wants to keep the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place to protect the health of the troops, as Republican governors and lawmakers press to rescind it.

This past week more than 20 Republican governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking that the administration remove the mandate, saying it has hurt the U.S. National Guard’s ability to recruit troops. Those troops are activated by governors to respond to natural disasters or unrest.

Congress may consider legislation this coming week to end the mandate as a requirement to gather enough support to pass this years’ defense budget, which is already two months late.

Austin said he would not comment on pressure from the Hill.

“We lost a million people to this virus,” Austin told reporters traveling with him Saturday. “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 added. “I support continuation of vaccinating the troops.”

Last year Austin directed that all troops get the vaccine or face potential expulsion from the military; thousands of active duty forces have been discharged since then for their refusal to get the shots.



  1. Foolish thinking – and against the Nuremberg Laws for a government to force-vaccinate or perform any other unwanted medical procedure on its citizenry. If the military is forcing its own to sign away their rights, potential recruits will continue to not apply, and to quit if already serving, just as others in many other fields have also done.

  2. If the vaccine is safe and effective, then the military is well within its rights to demand its personnel be vaccinated. This has been done consistently going back to George Washington requiring the Continental Army to be vaccinated for smallpox.

    The Nuremberg laws do not address vaccines, and in practice the only time you have an issue is when prisoners were used to test vaccines (e.g. vaccinate some, give some a placebo, and make sure someone with the disease breathes on them). International humanitarian law does not restrict what a country can do to its own soldiers or civilians (that’s why Nazis after World War II could be prosecuted by international courts only for killing non-German Jews – though national German courts ended up prosecuting the same people for killing German citizens).

  3. @akuperma – The c19 experimental ‘vaccine’ cannot be proven safe nor efficacious other than through decree – which is what has been happening. This is true of other vaccines and many other medical procedures as well. They are all unproven theory. The rights of all humans are innately protected against forced medical procedures, the Nuremberg Laws only reiterate what is obvious, and this right is also buttressed by most democracies and other responsible government enactments around the globe. The c19 mandates will eventually be proved unconstitutional. In the meanwhile, we are losing the trust and faith of many who would otherwise want to serve their country through the military – or in other ways where ‘vaccine mandates’ have unfairly stifled their hopes and dreams.