Youngkin wants Defense secretary to ‘indefinitely postpone’ vaccine mandate

FILE - Doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine wait to be administered during a vaccination...
FILE - Doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine wait to be administered during a vaccination clinic in Odessa, Texas, on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.(Eli Hartman/Odessa American via AP, File)
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 1:00 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Gov. Glenn Youngkin is asking Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to “indefinitely postpone” the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Army National Guard troops.

In a letter obtained by NBC12 on Wednesday, Youngkin says the vaccine directive - first implemented in August 2021 - “is not consistent with the latest science” and “is not in the best interest of Guard readiness.”

The letter emphasizes that several states and businesses have dropped vaccine mandates.

“Likewise, federal agencies such as the FAA no longer require vaccines or masks,” the letter states.

The letter - which was signed by U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman, H. Morgan Griffith, Ben Cline and Bob Good - says the directive will “unnecessarily impact troop readiness” during moments such as hurricane season.

“Several states are in litigation in federal courts and these legal challenges must be fully resolved before your directive is implemented,” the letter says. “At a minimum, the July 1 deadline should be extended pending the federal litigation.

The Hill reports that other Republican governors - including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt - have also voiced objections to the vaccine mandate for the National Guard.

“Soldiers in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard have until Thursday to receive the vaccine or get an exemption,” the Hill reports. “If they do neither, they could face punishment or removal from service.”

The Hill says about 60,000 Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers have not received the COVID-19 vaccines.

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