As the June 30 deadline nears for compliance with the U.S. military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, U.S. Army officials publicly claim a very small percentage of its members are unvaccinated, reporting 96% or more of its members are fully vaccinated.
However, the Army’s vaccination rate is in fact significantly lower than 96%, an active-duty senior Army official with access to senior-level information told The Defender — so low, that if the Army were to enforce the deadline, the loss of up to 120,000 service members would render it “combat-ineffective.”
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Army is strongly considering pushing the June 30 deadline much further into the future — but will not announce the date change until closer to, or even after, the upcoming deadline.
Concern about the number of unvaccinated service members was the topic of recent senior-level briefings, according to the official.
He said he’s blowing the whistle now because many service members who remain unvaccinated and/or who are “on the fence” about getting the vaccine may feel compelled to do so to meet the June 30 deadline — unaware the deadline may soon change.
He said by going public with this information now, service members who have not yet been vaccinated but who are feeling increasing pressure to get the COVID-19 vaccine may reconsider.
Real numbers of unvaccinated Army members ‘higher than anybody thought’
As far back as December 2021, an article on the U.S. Army website stated 96% of the Army’s 461,209 members were fully vaccinated.
In March 2022, as the Army began to announce the initiation of separation procedures for unvaccinated soldiers, officials again claimed 96% of its service members were fully vaccinated.
Later that month, an article on the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) website claimed “the entire force may be vaccinated for COVID-19 by early summer.”
According to the whistleblower though, the “real numbers of unvaccinated service members are way higher than anybody thought,” adding that while “everyone thought” the number of unvaccinated in the Army was approximately 8,000-10,000 members, it is actually around 120,000.
To confirm that number, the official confidentially shared an internal U.S. Army document, dated June 2022.
According to the document, in the Army National Guard (ARNG), there are 280,678 members who are fully vaccinated (84.6%), and 7,735 who are partially vaccinated (1 dose) (2.3%) — leaving 43,269, or 13%, who have not yet received a single dose.
In some states, such as Oklahoma, the document shows the vaccination rate for members of the ARNG is as low as 74.11%. Of those, the document lists 15,698 members as “refusals” and 6,749 (2.0%) as going through an exemption process — with 6,257 (1.9%) requesting a religious exemption and 492 (0.1%) requesting a medical exemption.
The document also notes that 80% of unvaccinated soldiers in the ARNG are age 32 or younger, with an average age of 26.2 and median age of 24.
The document adds that “unvaccinated soldiers in their first 1-3 years of service and 4-7 years of service represent the greatest risk to readiness” for the ARNG, and that “Infantry, Maintenance, Engineer and Transportation career fields represent the greatest areas [of] concern for the ARNG.”
The document also states “projected losses could drive [the ARNG] below 70% available strength.”
According to the document, “Current forecasts project unprogrammed, vaccination mandate-related losses to range from … 3-6% of assigned strength,” which would require an anticipated “seven-year effort at 1,500-2,000 ramp per year to restore [the] End Strength necessary to meet required Force Structure.”
The same document also provides figures for the U.S. Army Reserve (USAR), stating that 157,390 members are fully vaccinated (87.9%), with an additional 1,411 members partially vaccinated with one dose (0.8%), leaving 19,872 members (11.3%) fully unvaccinated.
Among the unvaccinated, 7,623 members (4.3%) are listed as “refusals” and 4,100 (2.3%) are listed as undergoing an exemption process, with 3,982 members (2.2%) having requested a religious accommodation, and 118 (0.1%) having requested a medical exemption.
In some states, such as Wyoming, the vaccination rate in the USAR is as low as 80.9%, according to the document.
The document also notes 65% of unvaccinated soldiers in the USAR are age 30 or younger, with an average age of 28 and a median age of 26.