Active-duty soldiers must be fully vaccinated by December 15 or else be suspended or dismissed, the US Army said

US soldier looks at American flag
A solider looks at the US flag. RICK LOOMIS/LA TIMES POOL/AFP via Getty Images
  • The US Army said active troops who don’t get vaccinated by Dec. 15 could be disciplined or dismissed.
  • It said soldiers who refuse vaccines will be counseled, but could be punished if they still refuse.
  • “This is quite literally a matter of life and death for our Soldiers,” the Army Surgeon General said.
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Active units in the US Army must get be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before December 15, the US Army said Tuesday.

It said in a statement that service members who refuse to get vaccinated will first be counseled by their superiors, but if they still refuse after that, and don’t have a legitimate reason to be exempt, they could be discharged or disciplined.

“While soldiers who refuse the vaccine will first be counseled by their chain of command and medical providers, continued failure to comply could result in administrative or nonjudicial punishment – to include relief of duties or discharge from the service,” the Army statement said.

Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the Army’s surgeon general, said: “This is quite literally a matter of life and death for our Soldiers, their families and the communities in which we live.”

“Case counts and deaths continue to be concerning as the Delta variant spreads, which makes protecting the force through mandatory vaccination a health and readiness priority for the total Army.”

The Pentagon last month ordered all active service members to get the Pfizer vaccine, but did not specify a timeline for when that should be completed.