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FAQ's About Military Personnel and Vaccine Concerns; Daycare, Exemptions and Reaction Reports


Military Personnel and Vaccines

Vaccine Exemptions & Daycare

Q: What are our rights regarding vaccine exemptions for my children who will be in daycare?

A: If you are a military dependent (beneficiary) and use military medical facilities, Tri-Care Services and/or Military Child Care, you must comply with the contained in joint military and Coast Guard instruction (AR 40-562, BUMEDINST 6230.15B, AFI 48-110_IP, CG COMDTINST M6230.4G) Immunizations and Chemoprophylaxis for Prevention of Infectious Disease update released October of 2013.

Exemption information can be found on page 6 of this guidance document and polices on childcare are further explained on page 13 and state:

Children attending DOD and USCG-sponsored primary and secondary schools, childcare centers, or similar facilities are required to be up to date on all age appropriate ACIP-recommended vaccines for children unless there is documentation of previous immunization, religious exemption, or medical contraindication. For foreign-national children outside the United States, observe host country recommendations or requirements.

More information about DoD vaccination programs for vaccine recipients and providers is at the DHA - IHB website. For assistance with documenting or reporting the vaccine reaction, contact the Worldwide DHA Immunization Healthcare Support Center (1-877-438-8222) and view information and resources provided by Health.mil.

Vaccine Exemptions for Military Personnel

Q: I am in the Armed Services and am being told that I have to take anthrax vaccines and other vaccines I don't want to take. What are my rights?

A: In general, much like medical exemptions in the private sector, a medical exemption in the military is subject to approval by a military health care professional. As of May 2020, DoD instruction on accomodation of religious practices are weighed against the government's compelling interest and mission goals. More specifically, policy states the following:

In accordance with section 533(a)(1) of Public Law 112-239 (Reference (d)), as amended, unless it could have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline, the Military Departments will accommodate individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs (conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs) of Service members in accordance with the policies and procedures in this instruction. This does not preclude disciplinary or administrative action for conduct by a Service member requesting religious accommodation that is proscribed by Chapter 47 of Title 10, United States Code (the Uniform Code of Military Justice), including actions and speech that threaten good order and discipline.

In relation to mandatory anthrax and small pox vaccination, clarification was issued by the Deputy Secretary of Defense in November of 2015. This clarification essentially states that certain personnel and contractors deployed in the U.S. Central Command area are mandated to recieve these vaccines, if in the area for 15 consecutive days or longer. There are many exceptions, so it is advised that this clarification be read carefully to understand whether or not the mandate applies to you. There is additional information provided by the Health.mil Anthrax Resource Center. 

For specifics on how to obtain an exemption, refer to page 6 of the joint military Coast Guard instruction (AR 40-562, BUMEDINST 6230.15B, AFI 48-110_IP, CG COMDTINST M6230.4G) Immunizations and Chemoprophylaxis for Prevention of Infectious Disease.

The DHA - IHB provides guidance on vaccine policy, education, and training. The DHA-IHB has Immunization Healthcare Specialists (IHSs) located around the world. For contact information for the IHS assigned to your location, you can find a list on the IHB website.


Reporting an Adverse Vaccine Reaction

Q: I am in the U.S. Armed Services and I think I have experienced a serious reaction to a vaccine. What should I do?

A: If you are a military service member or dependent (beneficiary) and think you may be experiencing a vaccine-related adverse event, DoD encourages you to contact your healthcare provider. If it is an emergency, go to the closest hospital.

For assistance with documenting or reporting the vaccine reaction, contact the Worldwide DHA Immunization Healthcare Support Center (1-877-438-8222) and view information and resources provided by Health.mil.


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