While more than 98 percent of the active-duty force is at least partially vaccinated, the roughly half-a-million members of the Army Reserve and National Guard have until the end of June to be vaccinated. They make up five out of six of the military’s most recent deaths.
The first deaths of 2022 are:
- Army Reserve Master Sgt. Lawrence Mawhinney Jr, 55, died Jan 2. He was most recently assigned to a Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Meade, Maryland.
- Army Reserve Staff Sgt. William Mitrovich, 57, died Jan. 6. He was assigned to 6th Battalion, 100th Regiment in Fort Sheridan, Illinois.
Three of the 88 service members who have died from COVID-19 complications had received vaccines. Two were partially vaccinated, while another received the single-dose Johnson and Johnson product, according to the Defense Department.
The military’s most deadly month came in August, as the delta variant surged around the country. That was followed by 14 in September and 12 in October, with numbers coming down slowly as the services’ vaccination deadlines loomed.
Nearly half, 41 out of 88, of COVID-19 deaths in the military have been among Army Reserve members and National Guardsmen, though they account for less than a quarter of the military’s total end strength.
While the Army does not track data for its Guardsmen, 73% of Reservists are fully vaccinated, according to data released Wednesday.
Across all components, about 70% of troops are fully vaccinated, while another 15% have received the first of a two-dose regimen.
At this point, the Army’s reserve component is the only part of the military that doesn’t have to be vaccinated. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in August directed the services to create their own vaccine deadlines and consequences for defying orders to get vaccinated.
The Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have all begun separating troops who refused vaccination and/or did not receive an approved exemption.
“As of January 11, the Army has not involuntarily separated any Soldiers solely for refusing the lawful order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” according to a Wednesday Army release. “As previously announced, this month Army officials intend to issue further guidance for the mandatory initiation of separation for Soldiers who refuse this lawful order.”
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.