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Will the COVID vaccine be required for...

Will the COVID vaccine be required for members of the Mississippi National Guard?

By: Anne Summerhays - August 10, 2021

The Pentagon announced on Monday that members of the U.S. military would be required to have the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Sept. 15

The Pentagon will require members of the U.S. military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by September 15, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press. That deadline could be pushed up if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise.

“The Department of Defense is moving quickly to meet President Biden’s commitment to defeat COVID-19, and that includes being able to ensure every member of our civilian and military workforce is protected,” Jamal Brown, deputy Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement last week.

The decision will add the COVID-19 vaccine to a list of various immunizations that service members are already required to have. Depending on their location, service members can receive as many as 17 different vaccines.

“I will seek the President’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon licensure by the Food and Drug Administration whichever comes first,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says in the memo to troops, warning them to prepare for the requirement.

Here in Mississippi, LTC Deidre D. Smith, Director of Public Affairs for the Mississippi National Guard, told Y’all Politics that their first priority is to protect our service members, their families and the communities in which they serve.

“Safety and readiness is always a top priority and we are here to do our part to combat COVID-19,” stated Smith.

LTC Smith detailed how their service members have completed COVID-19 testing before transitioning to COVID-19 vaccination site missions. MSNG service members administered over 400,700 COVID-19 vaccinations at Mississippi Department of Health vaccination sites and have driven over 376,000 miles providing logistical support assisting the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency with the transportation of proper protective equipment throughout the state.

The Mississippi National Guard has been a force multiplier for the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force from March 2020 through July 2021.

When asked what the National Guard’s plans were regarding the COVID-19 vaccine mandate from the Pentagon, LTC Smith stated that she could not “speculate on the developing issue specifics at this time.”

“But what I can say is the Mississippi National Guard is postured to support any guidance published by the Secretary of Defense,” Smith said.


UPDATE from Governor Tate Reeves today, August 11, 2021:

To defend the Nation, we need a ready and resilient force.
The National Guard is the combat reserve force for this country.  At the
present time, the MSNG has offered COVID-19 vaccination opportunities to our
military service members and civilian employees on a voluntary basis.

In response to the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin’s memorandum to the
force, published on August 10th, the MSNG is researching and developing
policy in anticipation for Department of Defense official guidance regarding
any changes with the current administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.  At the
present time, the vaccine is still offered on a voluntary basis until
refined   guidance is received and implemented as directed.

Being properly vaccinated for any area of operation is one of the many
responsibilities that go along with proper training, manning, and equipping
the force to ensure we are deployable at a moment’s notice.  The MSNG is
prepared to implement policy as directed by the Secretary of Defense to
implement measures to keep our service members safe and ensure we are always
ready when our Nation calls.

Thank you for your continued support to the men and women serving in the
Mississippi National Guard.

About the Author(s)
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Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: