COVID vaccine requirement officially rescinded Published Jan. 13, 2023 By Kendahl Johnson 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin rescinded the Aug. 24, 2021 memorandum mandating that members of the Armed Forces under Department of Defense authority be vaccinated against COVID-19, and the memorandum of Nov. 30, 2021, pertaining to the vaccination of National Guard and Reserve personnel. In a memo announcing the recension, Austin applauded the Department of Defense’s efforts made in stemming the transmission of COVID and maintaining military readiness during a nationwide pandemic. “The Department’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts will leave a lasting legacy in the many lives we saved, the world-class force we have been able to field, and the high level of readiness we have maintained, amidst difficult public health conditions,” Austin said. “Our efforts were possible due, first and foremost, to the strength and dedication of our people.” Other standing DOD policies, procedures, and processes regarding immunizations remain in effect. “These include the ability of commanders to consider, as appropriate, the individual immunization status of personnel in making deployment, assignment, and other operational decisions, including when vaccination is required for travel to, or entry into, a foreign nation,” Austin said. While the COVID vaccination is no longer required, Although the vaccination is no longer mandated, the Department of Defense continues to promote and encourage COVID vaccination for all service members to maintain a high level of immunity. “Vaccination enhances operational readiness and protects the Force,” Austin said. “All commanders have the responsibility and authority to preserve the Department’s compelling interests in mission accomplishment.” The COVID-19 Omicron variant knows as XBB.1.5. is causing an uptick in COVID-19 cases along the East Coast. Given the high transmissibility of this Omicron variant, public health officials expect this variant to spread quickly throughout the United States. The national COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration has been renewed for another 90 days effective Jan. 11. Locally, about 20% of the COVID cases in Utah are due to XBB.1.5 and Utah’s Public Health Emergency Declaration is still in effect. There has been an uptick in Utah counties with “Medium” community levels of COVID cases. While Davis and Weber counties are currently “Low,” there are seven counties that have community levels in the “Medium” range and one county in the “High” range. The transmission level throughout the state remains high. Active duty, federal civilian employees, and contractors at Kirtland Air Force Base who wish to receive the COVID vaccine through the 377th Medical Group can currently do so by appointment only and can be scheduled by going to the following the link below to schedule an appointment: https://informatics-stage.health.mil/DAP/ Information about getting the vaccine outside the base, including a list of currently accepted insurances, can be found at https://cv.nmhealth.org/covid-vaccine/. There is no out-of-pocket cost to receive the flu vaccine for anyone who has an approved health insurance, which includes Tricare West and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Information about COVID and receiving the vaccination at Kirtland's Clinic can be found at https://kirtland.tricare.mil/.