Release
Immediate Release

Secretary of Defense Video to the Force on COVID-19 Vaccinations

Feb. 24, 2021

The Department of Defense released a video today of the Secretary of Defense addressing the entire workforce to encourage informed decision-making with regards to coronavirus-19 vaccination.

Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III addressed the men and women of the Department directly in a video posted to Defense.gov.  

The video can be viewed here.

The text of Secretary Austin’s address follows: 

Hello there, I’m Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense.

I wanted to speak with you today about the coronavirus … and about how we can all chip in to defeat this pandemic once and for all.  As you have probably seen, we are going to be sending teams of active-duty professionals to assist FEMA in administering vaccines at select locations around the country.  This, of course, comes on top of the more than 20,000 National Guardsmen and women assisting state and local authorities across the country, as part of the whole-of-government response.

In other words, we’re pitching in to help our fellow citizens as quickly and safely as possible.  We’re part of a larger team of federal and state agencies, and we are working hard – leaning in – to be productive members of that team.  We’re also working hard to make vaccines available to every member of the DoD family who wants one.

You know we’ve approached this effort deliberately and in phases, making sure that we prioritized our frontline health care workers, and our deploying troops and those most vulnerable… but as we continue to advance through these phases, we want to make sure that all of you have the information that you need to make the best decisions for your families.  And so I encourage you to visit the CDC website for more information about the vaccines, as well as our own site at Defense.gov.

And when you do, you’ll see that these vaccines have undergone intensive safety monitoring.  You’ll see that they are safe and they are effective.  And you’ll see that millions of your fellow citizens have already taken them with little to no side effects.

You know, I’ve taken it myself.  After talking with my doctor, I believed it was the right thing to do -- not only for my health -- but also for my ability to do the job and to contribute to our readiness.

Of course, I also still practice social distancing, and I’ll still wear a mask while I’m here in the Pentagon and everywhere else I go.  And so we’ll need your continued support in that regard.  But I encourage you to have a discussion with your primary care physician about taking the vaccine.  And if you believe, as I did, that it’s the right thing for you … I hope that you’ll consider accepting it when it’s offered to you.

And finally, thank you for all you and your families do … each and every day … to keep our country safe.  

I’d ask that you please take care of yourselves and your teammates.  And please do what you can to keep each other safe. Thank you.