Gov. Kevin Stitt requests COVID-19 vaccine mandate suspension for Oklahoma guardsmen
Beverly Cantrell - November 2, 2021 6:31 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY —
Gov. Kevin Stitt sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin requesting a COVID-19 vaccine mandate suspension for members of the Oklahoma National Guard.
According to a news release from Stitt’s office, an estimated 800 Oklahoma guardsmen have not received or are not planning to receive the vaccine. That number accounts for about 10% of Oklahoma’s overall force.
The letter comes after President Joe Biden ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
“It is irresponsible for the federal government to place mandatory vaccine obligations on Oklahoma national guardsmen which could potentially limit the number of individuals that I can call upon to assist the state during an emergency,” Stitt wrote in the letter.
Sen. Jim Inhofe wrote a letter in October to the Department of Defense, asking Austin to suspend the COVID-19 mandate.
“This mandate violates the personal freedoms of many Oklahomans, as it asks them to potentially sacrifice their personal beliefs in order to not lose their jobs,” Stitt went on to say. “All of our national guardsmen take this calling very seriously. These are patriotic citizens who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect others in our communities during times of greatest need.”
Furthermore, Stitt wrote of practical considerations that would support the suspension, including the unprecedented Oklahoma weather, such as ice storms, tornadoes, cold temperatures and severe weather.
It is during these challenging times that the National Guard is most needed. The National Guard is uniquely positioned to step up and attack the hardest problems during the harshest times,” Stitt wrote.
“Stitt said it is irresponsible for the government to place obligatory vaccine mandates on the guardsmen, which will potentially impact the number of individuals available during an emergency.