The United States Department of Defense (DOD) might consider making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for U.S. troops if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves it, according to the Pentagon’s press secretary.
The announcement came during a Tuesday briefing delivered by Pentagon press secretary John Kirby to discuss the withdrawal of US forces from Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. Kirby fielded questions from attendees, which eventually turned to the topic of possible mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for U.S. troops — a strategy Kirby said may be under consideration by the Pentagon’s leadership.
“I don’t want to get ahead of the FDA,” Kirby said in response to a question asking whether or not COVID-19 vaccines will become mandatory for US troops when the FDA gives its full approval.
“Right now it’s [the COVID-19 vaccine] being used under emergency use authorization, which makes it a voluntary vaccine. Should the FDA approve it, then I am certain Pentagon leadership will take a look at what our options are going forward, including the potential option of making it mandatory,” Kirby stated. “But, I’m not going to get too far ahead of process right now, and, therefore, it is still a voluntary vaccine.”
Nearly 69% of DOD personnel have received at least one dose of one of the three available COVID-19 vaccines, according to Kirby. “We’ve got work to do, clearly. We’d like to see that percentage continue to climb,” Kirby added. The Pentagon is encouraging DOD personnel and their families to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others he added.
Leaders at @DeptofDefense hold preliminary discussions on making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for troops if FDA grants full approval for vaccines. Right now, 68.8 % of personnel have voluntarily gotten at least one dose. @13NewwsNow pic.twitter.com/KXyZHKidoE
— Mike Gooding 13News Now (@13MikeGooding) July 7, 2021
President Joe Biden’s administration fell just short of its July 4 goal to have at least 70% of American adults partially vaccinated by just 3%, with 67% of U.S. adults getting at least one COVID-19 jab as of July 5, according to NPR. (RELATED: Significant Numbers Of US Military Members Refusing COVID-19 Vaccination)
Recently, Biden himself has even suggested resorting to going door to door in order to get more American’s vaccinated. “Now we need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes door to door, literally knocking on doors, to help get the remaining people protected from the virus,” the president said.
Members of the U.S. military are already required to get vaccinated with a number of vaccines for various diseases, including Mumps, Measles and Polio.