2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

 COVID-19 Vaccination

Last Updated: March 25, 2021



Topline Messages

  • COVID vaccine posterAll Department of Defense (DoD) personnel are encouraged to take the vaccine to protect their health, their families, their community, and lower the public health risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Vaccines for COVID-19 are only available after they are demonstrated to be safe and effective in large Phase 3 clinical trials, have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and have been manufactured and distributed safely and securely. No steps are skipped during the clinical trial process. Vaccine safety checks are in-progress and will continue.
  • Vaccines approved for emergency use are offered on a voluntary basis.
  • All DoD personnel will continue to wear appropriate masks, practice physical distancing, wash hands, and follow restriction of movement to protect our safety as a large portion of the population will need to be vaccinated before COVID-19 risks diminish.

  • The two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines that are currently authorized require two shots. The first shot starts building protection, but everyone will have to receive the second shot to receive maximum benefit from the vaccine. The third authorized vaccine, a viral vector vaccine, is given as a single dose. People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated.
  • mRNA vaccines will be some of the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use. mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19. They cannot give someone COVID-19 or alter your genetic makeup (DNA). mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid and can most easily be described as instructions for how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein.

    Viral vector vaccines are also used against COVID-19. These vaccines use a modified version of a different virus (in this case the adenovirus) to deliver important instructions to our cells. For COVID-19 viral vector vaccines, the vector (not the virus that causes COVID-19, but a different, harmless virus) will enter a cell in our body and then use the cell’s machinery to produce a harmless piece of the virus that causes COVID-19. This triggers our immune system to begin producing antibodies and activating other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection.

  • Early on, there will be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination distribution prioritization will focus on those providing direct medical care, maintaining essential installation functions, deploying forces, and those at highest risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19.

  • The vaccine will be offered to all DoD beneficiaries who want it as soon as larger quantities become available.


All DoD beneficiaries and other individuals who are eligible to receive vaccines from DoD will be offered and are encouraged to receive the COVID-19 immunization in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and under the FDA guidelines.  The FDA may license the vaccine or release it under Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) or Expanded Access (EA) protocols.

  • If the vaccine is released under EUA or EA status, vaccination is voluntary* and will not:
    • be a mandatory military readiness vaccine
    • a requirement for deployment
    • a condition of employment for civilian personnel

Future FDA licensure of the vaccine may result in additional DoD guidance for the use of the vaccine as a medical readiness requirement for personnel.

*Unless waived by the President of the United States, COVID-19 vaccine(s) under EUA or EA status are not a mandatory medical readiness requirement.

Military Health System (MHS) COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center for Healthcare Personnel

Information and resources on the COVID-19 Vaccination Program from the Defense Health Agency Immunization Healthcare Division. This information is geared toward health care personnel in the DoD. Click here to learn moreExternal Link

Communication Products and Educational Resources



Vaccine Safety

DoD is confident in the stringent regulatory processes and requirements of the FDA. Manufacturers are required to submit their raw data for the FDA to review. Safety, immune response, and efficacy data from the trial stages are submitted to the FDA before the vaccines are authorized for use and distribution. Per FDA requirements, DoD will be monitoring and tracking reports of vaccine side effects through various surveillance activities both internal and external to the DoD.  Click here to learn moreExternal Link



Frequently Asked Questions

General Resources


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