The Department of Defense has been mandated by the president to vaccinate all Airmen and Guardians by November 2. That date has come and passed. What is going to happen to those who “Just Say No”? 

With COVID-19 still the top headline in nearly every country, the U.S. has already split into two factions: those who want the vaccine, and those who don’t. State governments say one thing, city governments another, and the federal government is saying it all. DoD falls under the Fed, and the Air Force falls under DoD. It has always been a case of “do what we say or else” as far as the military is concerned. And now “or else” is taking on a whole new meaning.

As of November 2, more than 10,000 Airmen, Guardians, and recruits have not received the “mandatory” vaccination. Some of these may have simply not gotten the shots, but most appear to be refusals. Some have applied for waivers on the grounds of religious or medical reasons. Not all, though. The Air Force has not released numbers of those requesting exemption, or on what grounds the exemption was requested. No matter the reasons, these still are refusals to vaccinate. It all comes down to what the service will do about it.

This has gotten ridiculous. Is there a clear, lawful mandate for all servicemembers to get an approved COVID-19 vaccination or not? Are punishments for refusal clearly spelled out for everyone to understand? Do new recruits’ enlistment packages make any mention of the vaccine? Are requirements the same across the board for all who work in the Air Force or Space Force?