He added that while just 7% of the eligible Defense Department population is outside the U.S., the Pentagon is shipping 14 percent of the doses it gets to overseas locations.
“That said, if you’re a service member stationed overseas or a family member, likewise stationed overseas, and you haven’t received a vaccine and you don’t know when you’ll be able to, these numbers mean nothing,” said Place. “And it’s understandably frustrating.”
Place said that he expects to be able to deliver at least an initial dose to every eligible Defense Department person overseas who wants one by the middle of May.
Military officials from across the services said that they are seeing an increase in the rate of those agreeing to take the vaccine.
In mid-February, military officials said that thousands of service members were refusing or putting off the COVID-19 vaccine, prompting Defense leaders to beef up efforts to educate troops about the shots, which are strictly voluntary.
Over time, however, Place said that the acceptance rate is growing, althought the Pentagon has not provided numbers and has said it doesn't collect data on those who opt out of the vaccine.
“We continue to see many individuals who were taking a wait and see approach now coming in for the vaccine,” he said.
National Guard leaders said Thursday that close to 18 percent of their forces - or more thanh 76,000 — have been fully vaccinated, and another 111,000 have gotten at least one shot. Guard troops are also working in many states to help deliver the vaccine, particularly in more remote or underserved locations.
There are more than 2,200 guard members spread across 1,000 different sites, including mobile vaccination centers, who are providing vaccines. As of this week, Guard members had administered 6 million shots to people around the country.