Pentagon officially drops COVID-19 vaccine mandate

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The Pentagon on Tuesday formally rescinded its COVID-19 vaccination mandate, dropping the shot’s requirement across the U.S. military over a year after it was first put in place, according to a new memo signed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. 

The memo was expected after the annual defense policy bill, signed into law by President Biden on Dec. 23, gave the Defense Department 30 days to pull the mandate.  

Even with the requirement gone, however, the Defense Department “will continue to promote and encourage COVID-19 vaccination for all service members,” Austin said in the memo. “Vaccination enhances operational readiness and protects the force.”