The Air Force Association (AFA) is on track to hold a warfare symposium in Orlando, Fla., next week on March 2-4, but the Department of the Air Force (DAF) is mandating that its in-person attendees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, in consultation with public health and policy experts, is authorizing in-person attendance only for civilian and military DAF personnel who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and who are asymptomatic. Fully-vaccinated status comes two weeks after personnel get their second shot of a two-dose vaccine–Comirnaty® by Pfizer [PFE] and BioNTech [BNTX] or Spikevax® by Moderna [MRNA]–or two weeks after personnel receive their shot of a one-dose vaccine, such as Janssen by Johnson & Johnson [JNJ].

On Feb. 22, the Department of the Air Force reported that 96 percent of its military personnel–active, reserve and Guard–are fully vaccinated. The department has reported among its civilian and military personnel more than 133,000 cases of COVID-19, 97 hospitalizations, and 159 deaths. Most of the latter–107–were DAF civilians, while 29 were contractors.

Last month, the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) canceled for the third straight year an in-person Global Force Symposium because of COVID-19 risks cited by AUSA (Defense Daily, Jan. 25). The Global Force Symposium is a major defense show where senior Army officials provide updates on the service’s major weapon system programs and modernization efforts. This year’s symposium was to be in Huntsville, Ala., in late March.

COVID-19 concerns appear to have abated in the last several weeks, however.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the highly contagious Omicron variant appears to be less pernicious than previous coronavirus waves but that risks of severe illness and death from the variant remain significantly higher for the unvaccinated.