Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memo this week detailing his request to president Joe Biden to require all US troops to get vaccinated against Covid-19 by mid-September.
“I have every confidence that Service leadership and your commanders will implement this new vaccination program with professionalism, skill, and compassion.”
Austin said that he will be working to make the vaccine mandatory by mid-September or immediately upon the FDA’s full approval. As of right now vaccines in the military are voluntary when under emergency use authorization by the FDA; which all Covid-19 vaccines in America are currently being distributed under.
President Joe Biden has the ability to waive the rule and make the vaccine a requirement for any government personnel, and in a recent statement Biden claimed he “strongly” supports Austin’s decision to make the vaccine mandatory.
“I am proud that our military women and men will continue to help lead the charge in the fight against this pandemic, as they so often do, by setting the example of keeping their fellow Americans safe.”
John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the president’s message of support is appreciated but doesn’t necessarily constitute for the approval of a waiver over the vaccine requirement. The Pentagon itself will still have to go through the process of requesting a waiver and receiving approval from the president.
“You can consider this memo today as what we would call in the military a warning order – a warning order to the force that this is coming, and we want you to be ready for it as well. Obviously we’d prefer that you get the vaccine now and not wait for the mandate,” Kirby explained.
Military services are already working on preparation and implementation tactics for whenever the vaccine becomes a requirement for military and government personnel. FDA approval for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is likely to occur within the next few weeks.
The Department of Defense released a statement in which they explained that Austin would be consulting with medical professionals and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to best determine how to implement these required vaccines among government groups.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.