MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — Around 2,000 soldiers in Alabama’s Army National Guard could be out for failing to get a COVID-19 vaccine before Thursday’s federal deadline.
There are over 12,000 citizen soldiers and Airmen in the Alabama Army and Air National Guard, according to the governor’s office.
The Associated Press reports that 82% of those members have already received a COVID-19 vaccine. That leaves around 2,160 soldiers either unvaccinated or part of the roughly 7,000 soldiers nationwide who have requested an exemption, mostly for religious reasons.
The deadline for Guard soldiers across the nation is Thursday, June 30.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey penned a letter to President Joe Biden earlier this month urging him to halt the deadline.
“While I understand this policy was developed to promote force readiness, it has instead had — and will continue to have — a counterproductive effect,” Ivey stated.
“The men and women impacted by this policy – the National Guard members who serve their state and country in a volunteer, part-time capacity – deserve clarity on this policy before it moves forward,” Ivey continued, citing 300 Alabama Guard members who requested a religious exemption.
Ivey stated ultimately she believes the mandate should be rescinded altogether, but requested a pause while the U.S. Department of Defense addresses the exemptions.
“This June 30 vaccination deadline is already a full seven months later than other vaccination deadlines imposed on military and civilian personnel, and it comes at a time when the effects of the COVID-19 virus are minimal,” Ivey stated.
As of Thursday afternoon, the State of Alabama reported a 24.7% positivity rate in tests over the last seven days. That number has been steadily rising since it plateaued around 2.5% in April.
At a national level, AP reported 14,000 members of the Army National Guard have refused a COVID-19 vaccine and could be forced out of the service as a result of the requirement.