Governors from 5 states have written a joint letter to Lloyd J. Austin III, the protection secretary, asking that their Nationwide Guard troops be exempted from a federal coronavirus vaccine mandate, vastly escalating what had been a single state battle over inoculations.

“Setting punishment necessities for refusing to be Covid-19 vaccinated, and requiring separation from every state Nationwide Guard if unvaccinated are past your constitutional and statutory authority,” wrote the governors of Alaska, Wyoming, Iowa, Mississippi and Nebraska, all Republicans, to Mr. Austin, and requested that their states be given an exemption from the requirement. The Pentagon has but to reply to the letter, which was dated Tuesday.

Final month, the Protection Division rejected an try by Kevin Stitt, the governor of Oklahoma, to exclude the state’s Nationwide Guard from the mandate, setting the stage for Guard members within the state to lose their jobs ought to they refuse. The division this week launched a brand new order noting that every one guard members who don’t get vaccinated will obtain a common order of reprimand, which might primarily finish their profession.

Federal officers have mentioned that governors don’t have any authorized standing to permit Guard members to refuse the vaccine mandate. State officers and a few authorized specialists, nevertheless, imagine that except Nationwide Guard members are federally deployed, they’re below the jurisdiction of the governor of their state and subsequently not topic to federal mandates.

Roughly 97 % of the 1.3 million active-duty service members in america have had at the least one dose of a vaccine, however the numbers are a lot decrease for members of the Guard and Reserve.

Every service department has a special deadline for photographs, and the Guard items is not going to face theirs for months. By rising the variety of states tangling with the division, the governors of the states which have typically resisted vaccine mandates underscore the rising politicization of the mandates in part of authorities — the army — the place vaccine mandates are frequent and largely with out controversy.

The Air Drive, with greater than 325,000 lively responsibility members, was the primary to hit the deadline; a mere 27 airmen — all with lower than six years of service — are the primary believed to have been fired over vaccine refusals, Pentagon officers mentioned this week. The Military and Navy are anticipated to announce their numbers imminently.

The Protection Division has granted only a few exemptions from the mandate, aside from to individuals who had been already leaving the army or those that have medical points. To this point, not a single service member has been granted a non secular exemption.