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Reserve Citizen Airmen must be fully COVID-19 vaccinated this year

A member of team Homestead receives the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination event during the August Unit Training Assembly Aug. 7, 2021 at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Allissa Landgraff)

A Reserve Citizen Airman receives the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination event during the August Unit Training Assembly Aug. 7, 2021 at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Allissa Landgraff)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – The Air Force has directed that all Reserve Citizen Airmen in part-time statuses be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 2, 2021, and all Reservists on active duty or in Active Guard and Reserve status must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 2, 2021.

Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall directed the COVID-19 vaccine implementation guidelines in accordance with the Secretary of Defense mandate announced last month.

Lt. Gen. Scobee's message to the field shortly clearly outlines the 2 Dec 21 deadline for Reserve Citizen Airmen to be fully vaccinated and his expectations of Airmen to be in one of four categories by the deadlines.  His message states:
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“As a key factor in our readiness and war fighting mission, the health and wellbeing of our Reserve Citizen Airmen is of the utmost importance to me, my staff and our nation’s defense. Many of you have chosen to receive the COVID-19 vaccine voluntarily in an effort to protect yourselves, your families and your wingmen. Thank you.
In accordance with Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall's guidelines for the COVID-19 vaccine, I now intend for all our military Reserve Citizen Airmen to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 2, 2021. Our medical personnel are equipped with the approved Pfizer vaccine to administer our Airmen during the next UTA weekend.
I expect all of our Airmen to fall into one of four categories to ensure we meet the Dec. 2 deadline:
 
(1) fully vaccinated
(2) actively getting fully vaccinated
(3) approved exemption or eligible exemption in progress
(4) decline vaccination, which is incompatible with continued military service.
 
I believe most of you will be in the first two categories, and we will continue to Fly, Fight and Win wherever our nation needs us.”
 
– Lt. Gen. Richard W. Scobee, Chief of the Air Force Reserve and Commander, Air Force Reserve Command
 
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Many Air Force Reserve members across the command received their vaccine during this month’s UTA, and many units will continue to vaccinate in the coming weeks.

The current COVID-19 vaccine mandate only applies to active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen, and does not apply to federal civil service employees at this time. Federal civil service employee requirements will be addressed at a later date in a separate communication.

However, AFRC medical officials and senior leaders highly encourage everyone to help protect themselves and others by being vaccinated.

Prior to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, service members have access to health care providers and chaplains to address questions or concerns with the vaccination. Additionally, commanders may consult with their servicing Staff Judge Advocate for additional guidance on vaccination noncompliance.

Service members are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, or two weeks after receiving a single dose of a one-dose vaccine. This includes one- or two-dose options authorized under emergency use authorization or full Food and Drug Administration approval.

Reserve Airmen who have proof of vaccination documented in their medical records per this definition will be considered as meeting the vaccination requirement. Like all other vaccines, all Air Force Reserve members who receive vaccination outside a military facility must provide documentation to their unit health monitor and/or Reserve medical unit within 72 hours of vaccination.

For more information see the links below. Reserve Citizen Airmen are also encouraged to work and concerns with their chains of command and local military treatment facilities.

Some of the FAQs include:
 
Question 55) If I refuse the vaccine on a UTA or in other Inactive Duty status, can I be ordered to Annual Tour or other Active Duty and compelled to be vaccinated?
Answer) Yes, you may be ordered to Annual Tour with the appropriate notice. You will be expected to comply with the requirement to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You may also do so at a civilian provider of your choice. If you elect to receive the vaccine at a civilian provider, an FDA approved or authorized (EUA) vaccine will satisfy the mandate. You will need to provide appropriate paperwork to your Unit Health Monitor to be entered in AHLTA and ASIMS for tracking purposes.
 
Question 56) Is there a difference if I refuse the vaccine on Inactive or Active Duty status?
Answer) No. Members of the reserve components, in either status, are required to comply with this mandate.
 
Question 57) If I refuse the vaccine, will I be paid? Can I be “red-lined” and given an unexcused drill period? Will I be put in “no pay, no points” status?
Answer) You will be paid for any duty completed but could be then excused and sent home pending further action. Any subsequent drill periods could be marked as unexcused if the member does not have prior approval from the commander. Your commander could also place you in a “No Pay No Points” duty status for failing to meet medical readiness requirements.
 
Question 58) If I don’t take the vaccine, can I transfer to the Individual Ready Reserve?
Answer) No. Your transfer will be denied.
 
Question 61) I’m an IMA. Can my Active Duty unit stop my participation if I refuse the vaccine?
Answer) Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine is a mandatory requirement. If a member does not meet medical readiness standards participation could be curtailed.
 
Question 62) If I refuse the vaccine, will I be allowed to participate in order to get a ‘good year’ for retirement?
Answer) It depends. The COVID-19 vaccine is a mandatory requirement. If a member does not meet medical readiness standards, participation could be curtailed.
 
Question 65) Can a member of the reserve component use an Active Duty MTF to receive the COVID-19 vaccination while not in a paid duty status?
Answer) Yes.
 
Question 66) If a member of the reserve component receives a COVID-19 vaccination off-base while not in paid duty status, are they responsible for the cost? Can they seek treatment through TRICARE or the military medical system if they suffer complications? What about through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)?
Answer) Service members, regardless of status, who require medical attention as a result of COVID-19 vaccination may utilize the military medical system. Determinations on benefits from the VHA or TRICARE will be made by each respectively.
Most civilian vaccination programs are offering the COVID-19 vaccination free of charge. Members of the SELRES may utilize vaccination programs outside of MTFs and DoD vaccination sites, such as civilian county and state programs.
 
The CDC’s vaccines page can help you find the vaccine near you: www.vaccines.gov