A federal judge in Oklahoma has denied a motion by the state to block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the state's National Guard.

Gov. Kevin Stitt challenged the mandate, asserting the Oklahoma guard is under his control and that the federal vaccine mandate for military members does not apply to those from the state. However, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on Tuesday disagreed with Stitt's claim the Pentagon's vaccine mandate overstepped constitutional authority.

“Adding a tenth … vaccine to the list of nine that all service members are already required to take would hardly amount to ‘an enormous and transformative expansion [of the] regulatory authority’ the Secretary of Defense already possesses,” Judge Stephen P. Friot, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, wrote in his ruling.

"Our office has reviewed the judge's order," Carly Atchison, communications director for the governor, told the Washington Examiner. "We don't have further comment."

To date, 97% of the Oklahoma Air National Guard is either vaccinated or seeking an exemption, which leaves roughly 60 of the 2,250 guardsmen unvaccinated, a spokesperson for the state's National Guard told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday. The Air National Guard deadline for getting the vaccine has already passed.

The state's Army National Guard, however, has a much lower vaccination rate — 46% fully and 7% partially — the spokesperson added, though their deadline is not until June 2022.


The Oklahoma Office of Attorney General requested a federal court to grant a temporary restraining order against the mandate, asking for a preliminary injunction followed by a permanent injunction to prevent enforcement of the vaccine mandate.

The state's lawsuit also sought to block President Joe Biden's administration from withholding federal funding from the state's National Guard and its members.

Stitt said in November he would appoint Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino to serve as the state's adjunct general and National Guard commander, with Mancino telling guardsmen in December they would not be forced to comply with the vaccine mandate. The state Senate has yet to confirm Mancino for the position.

So far, six other Republican governors have raised issues with the military vaccine mandate, but Stitt remains the only governor to file a lawsuit.


Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, and most recently Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have spoken out against the mandate, with all except Abbott penning a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin against the vaccine requirement.