- All actively-serving military personnel have to get vaccinated by mid-September, said the Department of Defense on Monday.
- The deadline could be pushed earlier if the FDA fully approves the vaccines before then.
- At least 70% of the military’s total 1.4 million personnel have received one shot.
The US military plans to make COVID vaccines mandatory for all of its actively-serving members by mid-September, announced the Department of Defense on Monday.
The mandate will be introduced even earlier if the FDA licenses the vaccines before the deadline, wrote US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a memo. Top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said he hoped the FDA would fully approve the vaccines by the end of August. Pfizer, currently under emergency approval along with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots, is expected to be licensed first.
“To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force,” wrote Secretary Austin. “I strongly encourage all DoD military and civilian personnel — as well as contractor personnel — to get vaccinated now and for military Service members to not wait for the mandate.”
He added that officials would monitor rising infection rates driven by the Delta variant, and the threat they pose to the US military’s readiness.
“I will not hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if I feel the need to do so,” he wrote in the announcement.
Defense officials initially planned to require vaccines for military personnel by end August, but decided to delay the deadline after White House officials voiced concerns about introducing a mandate before the shots were fully approved by the FDA, reported The New York Times.
President Joe Biden endorsed the Pentagon’s mandate in a White House statement released on Monday.
“I strongly support Secretary Austin’s message to the [military] today on the Department of Defense’s plan to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for our service members not later than mid-September,” he said.
In July, Biden ordered that all federal employees be fully vaccinated or be tested regularly for COVID.
Courtesy By INSIDER