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Pentagon announces US service members will soon be required to get the COVID vaccine

Pentagon announces US service members will soon be required to get the COVID vaccine after Pfizer received full FDA approval

  • ‘We’re going to move forward making that vaccine mandatory, we’re preparing the guidance for the force right now,’ Kirby said in a news briefing
  • The FDA granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for those aged 16 and older on Monday
  • Defense Sec. Austin announced two weeks ago that service members would have to get vaccinated beginning Sept. 15 or when a shot was fully authorized

Press secretary John Kirby said Monday the Pentagon will now move to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations for all US service members since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given full authorization to the Pfizer shot.

‘We’re going to move forward making that vaccine mandatory, we’re preparing the guidance for the force right now,’ Kirby said in a news briefing. 

The FDA granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for those aged 16 and older on Monday. The two-dose immunization was the first to receive emergency use authorization from federal regulators in December 2020 and will now be first to be licensed.

‘We’re going to move forward making that vaccine mandatory, we’re preparing the guidance for the force right now,’ Kirby said in a news briefing Monday

Two weeks ago, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that all 1.3 million active duty service members would be required to get a coronavirus vaccination, beginning either Sept. 15 or whenever a shot was fully approved by the FDA, whichever came first. 

At the time of Lloyd’s announcement, about two-thirds of the US military was fully inoculated.   

Asked what the consequences would be for service members who refuse a vaccine beyond Sept. 15, Kirby told reporters at the time of Austin’s announcement: ‘I’m not going to speculate, get into hypotheticals. 

‘It isn’t a widespread issue,’ Kirby said of service members refusing a vaccine. ‘To the degree it happens, my assumption is that it is dealt with at the command level, again not going to speculate.’ 

Weeks ago, President Biden required all federal employees and onsite contractors to attest that they are vaccinated or if they are unvaccinated to submit to regular testing. That requirement extended to civilians working for the Defense Department, but not active duty members.

Currently all federal employees in Washington, DC are required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. 

US service members can be required to take as many as 17 vaccines, depending on where in the world they are stationed.

‘Mandating vaccines in the military is not new,’ Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said in a statement of support of the move. ‘Since the first days of basic training and throughout our service, we’ve received multiple vaccines.’

‘Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is a key force protection and readiness issue,’ Milley wrote out in black ink at the end of the statement.

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