“We are aware of the memo issued by the adjutant general of Oklahoma regarding COVID vaccination for Guardsmen and the letter from the governor requesting waiver. We will respond to the governor appropriately,” he said. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby in a statement to CNN. That said, Secretary (Lloyd) Austin believes a vaccinated force is a more ready force. That’s why he ordered mandatory vaccines for the entire force, and so does our National Guard, which contribute significantly to national missions in at home and abroad.”
In the memo to members of the Oklahoma National Guard issued Thursday and obtained by CNN affiliate KOKH-TV, Army Brig. Gene. Thomas Mancino said the Oklahoma National Guard has rejected the Department of Defense’s demand that all service members receive the coronavirus vaccine and that personnel can waive the policy without punitive consequences. However, according to the memo, members must be vaccinated if they are federally mobilized.
“We estimate that more than 800 Oklahoma security guards do not have and do not plan to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This represents 10% of Oklahoma’s total military force,” Stitt wrote. “It is irresponsible for the federal government to impose mandatory vaccine obligations on the Oklahoma National Guard, which could limit the number of individuals I can enlist to assist the state during an emergency.”
Earlier this week, Stitt named Mancino adjutant general for Oklahoma and commander of the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard. Mancino’s nomination requires confirmation from the Oklahoma State Senate. Former adjutant general Mike Thompson, who was abruptly relieved on Wednesday, was a supporter of the Covid-19 vaccine and received a booster shot last month.
CNN has reached out to Stitt’s office and the Oklahoma National Guard for more comment on the matter.
In August, sec. Austin said in a memo he instructed the military to “begin full vaccination immediately” of all members of the armed forces or those in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard, who have not yet been fully vaccinated.
“After careful consultations with medical experts and military leadership, and with the support of the President, I have determined that mandatory vaccination against 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is necessary to protect the armed forces and defend the American people,” he said. .