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Pentagon Nixed Request to Give COVID Vaccine to National Guard Before Inauguration

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty

Senior Pentagon officials denied an early December request to vaccinate the National Guard troops tapped to secure Washington during the inauguration, according to two officials familiar with the matter.

Those sources said the request, made by officials in charge of planning the event, was rejected because most of the guardsmen called to help protect the inauguration fell outside of the first tier of the Department of Defense’s population schema for the COVID-19 vaccine. Despite the rebuff, inauguration event planners continued to press the issue, raising fears about the spread of the virus within the Capitol campus and among attendees, particularly if protesters at the event did not wear masks, officials said.

One individual involved with the planning said senior officials at the Pentagon pushed back against the vaccination idea primarily because they were worried about muddling the department’s prescribed vaccination playbook—that the process would divert doses away from those in the first wave of distribution. Now National Guard spokespeople say they don’t know how many of the guardsmen have been vaccinated. Another official familiar with the matter, however, said some troops did receive their first shot when they showed up for duty at the Capitol. Meanwhile, dozens of National Guard troops working to help protect the inauguration have tested positive for the virus, according to a report by the Military Times.

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