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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Aug. 27, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine mandated for all military members

On Aug. 24, the Secretary of Defense directed the Secretaries of the Military Departments to immediately begin full vaccination of all active duty and Ready Reserve members of the Armed Forces.

Consistent with the Secretary of Defense’s direction, on Aug. 26 the Commandant announced that all Coast Guard active duty and Ready Reserve members who are not fully vaccinated, and do not fall within an approved exception, must now be vaccinated against COVID-19. Military members who are not fully vaccinated are required to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech (Cominarty) COVID-19 vaccine as an initial series, and subsequently as indicated, to comply with recommended vaccine schedules necessary to achieve full vaccination against COVID-19, unless granted an exemption or accommodation. The Pfizer-BioNTech (Cominarty) COVID-19 was granted license by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Aug. 23.

Servicemembers who have already received all required doses of an FDA licensed vaccine, a vaccine administered under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), or a vaccine on the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the last required dose. Currently, this list includes Pfizer-BioNTech (Cominarty), Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. For now, servicemembers who voluntarily receive any of those vaccines after the establishment of this policy will also be considered fully vaccinated after having met the vaccine manufacturer’s dosing and timing requirements.

“A fully vaccinated service will save lives and we will move ambitiously to fully vaccinate our servicemembers,” said Adm. Karl Schultz, Coast Guard commandant. “Consistent with the Secretary of Defense's guidance, my intention is to use, to the extent practicable, existing policies and procedures to manage the mandatory vaccination of our servicemembers.  We will ensure the expeditious promulgation of policies and procedures where existing guidance is insufficient or incomplete.”  

Further implementation guidance on mandatory vaccination is forthcoming.