ARLINGTON, Va. — Roughly 98 percent of U.S. Special Operations Command troops have received the COVID vaccine, the head of SOCOM said Friday.
SOCOM’s commander, Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, shared the statistic during the annual Military Reporters and Editors Conference here and said that percentage includes special operators like SEALS and Green Berets, but also administrative and other troops that make up the joint force of roughly 70,000.
The 98 percent take rate also includes service members who have only received one shot of two-shot COVID vaccines, SOCOM officials clarified Saturday. About 92 percent of them are fully vaccinated, SOCOM said.
As the services have moved to mandate vaccines this fall, leaders have preached that getting the COVID jabs is a matter of readiness.
But given the high take rate in his ranks, Clarke told reporters he is not concerned about getting his troops vaccinated and their readiness at this point.
“I don’t see it as a SOCOM readiness issue,” he said.
Of the military personnel who have yet to be vaccinated, Clarke added: “People are changing their mind every day, and they still have more time to make up their mind.”
As of Wednesday, 97 percent of the active-duty force has had at least one of the two-dose vaccine regimen, while 87 percent is fully vaccinated.
Including the Reserve and National Guard, 82 percent are at least partially vaccinated and 68 percent are fully vaccinated, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Military Times.
Those who don’t have a medical reason to not get vaccinated and still refuse to roll up their sleeves could face administrative or other repercussions, unless they are approved for a rather rare waiver for religious reasons.
“We’re going to make sure that every individual who has reservations about taking the vaccine, for whatever reason, is properly counseled about the safety and the efficacy of the vaccines, and the health risks for not taking it,” Kirby told reporters in August. “As well as counseling the readiness impact of not taking it ― the impact that an individual would be having on his or her teammates.”
The Air Force’s active-duty deadline for vaccination is Nov. 2, while sailors and Marines have until Nov. 28 to get vaccinated, and active-duty soldiers face a deadline of Dec. 15.
Editor’s note: This article was updated Oct. 30, 2021 with new information from SOCOM.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.