BREAKING NEWS: Pentagon will require ALL members of the U.S. military to get the COVID vaccine by September 15
- The date could be moved up if the vaccine is fully approved by the FDA sooner
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo to troops he would not hesitate to ‘act sooner’ if he felt the need to do so
- The FDA is expected to fully approve the Pfizer vaccine early next month
The Pentagon will require the nation’s troops to get a Covid-19 vaccine by Sept. 15.
That date could be moved up if the shot is sooner given final approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or infection rates continue to rise.
‘I will seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon’ final approval by the FDA, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in a memo to troops.
‘I will not hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if l feel the need to do so.’
He said the next few weeks would be spent preparing for the transition.
The FDA is expected to give final approval to the Pfizer vaccine early next month. Austin would need a waiver from President Biden to require vaccines without that formal approval.
Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin, above, said he would mandate Covid-19 jabs for service members sooner than Sept. 15 if a vaccine was fully approved by the FDA before then
Currently, all federal workers are required to get a Covid-19 vaccine or submit themselves to regular testing
‘In the meantime, we will comply with the President’s direction regarding additional restrictions and requirements for unvaccinated Federal personnel. Those requirements apply to those of you in uniform as well as our civilian and contractor personnel,’ Austin said.
The memo, first reported by the Associated Press, follows Biden’s announcement last week that his administration would require 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.
Biden issued a statement of support following the announcement.
‘I strongly support Secretary Austin’s message to the Force 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,’ Biden said.
‘Secretary Austin and I share an unshakable commitment to making sure our troops have every tool they need to do their jobs as safely as possible.’
According to the Pentagon, more than 1 million troops are fully vaccinated and another 237,000 have received one shot.
But the military services vary widely in their vaccination rates.
The Navy said that more than 74 percent of all active duty and reserve sailors have been vaccinated with at least one shot. The Air Force, meanwhile, said that more than 65 percent of its active duty and 60 percent reserve forces are at least partially vaccinated, and the number for the Army — by far the largest service — appears to be closer to 50 percent.
According to CDC data, 71 percent of American adults have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 61 percent are fully vaccinated.