Fort Rucker becomes first US military base to require proof of vaccination for unmasked soldiers

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FILE – In this Sunday, July 11, 2021 file photo, a doctor fills a syringe with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Kabul, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, file)

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (WIAT) — Fort Rucker in southeast Alabama has become the first military base in the United States to require proof of vaccination from any unmasked personnel.

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In a video posted by local military officials on July 12, Commanding General David Francis outlined the change, which he said was due to rising rates of coronavirus infection in the counties around the base.

“Due to the rising rates in the counties around us and some on Fort Rucker, we’re now implementing G.O. number 12,” Francis said in the video. “The big difference is going to be that if you are not wearing a mask, the leadership will be able to ask you, ask soldiers, to prove that they’ve been vaccinated by showing their vaccination card.”

The order applies only to unmasked, uniformed military personnel on the military base. The new general order that forces that change emphasizes that “taking the COVID-19 vaccine remains an individual choice.” However, those soldiers without proof of vaccination will be required to mask when on base.

Dale County, where Fort Rucker is primarily located, has experience a 440 percent increase in coronavirus cases over the last 14 days, according to data compiled by the New York Times.

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