Air Force officials on Wednesday said the military branch was not likely to reach its goal to vaccinate 100% of active-duty Air Force Airmen and Space Force Guardians by Nov. 2. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force is not expected to reach its goal to vaccinate all active-duty airmen against COVID-19 by Tuesday, officials said Wednesday.
As of Oct. 18. 96.2% of active-duty Air Force airmen and Space Force guardians had received at least one dose of the vaccine, along with 92.8% of the total force, the Air Force said in a statement last week.
"We don't anticipate we will be to a 100% vaccination rate," Rose Riley of Air Force public affairs told Defense One on Wednesday.
The Air Force's 100% vaccination deadline is the earliest for active-duty members among all military branches with the Navy and Marines setting a deadline of Nov. 28 and the Army setting a deadline for active-duty members to be vaccinated by Dec. 15.
Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel also have until Dec. 2 to be fully vaccinated.
Under the mandate, service members must also wait two weeks after their final shot to be fully vaccinated, meaning those who had only received their first shot of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines likely will not meet the requirement by the deadline. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one shot for recipients to be considered fully vaccinated.
The Air Force has warned that members who fail to get vaccinated by the deadline may face discipline under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, stating commanders retain the "full range of disciplinary options" available to them under law, including issuing administrative paperwork, imposing non-judicial punishment or referring court-martial charges.
The armed forces are, however, offering service members the ability to seek medical or religious accommodation.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Aug. 24 mandated that all members of the Armed Forces receive the COVID-19 vaccine after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.