The Pentagon announced Monday COVID-19 vaccines will soon be mandated for all 1.3 million service members in the United States.
“These efforts ensure the safety of our service members and promote the readiness of our force, not to mention the health and safety of the communities around the country in which we live,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Monday. The Pentagon will share a timeline for the implementation of the mandate in the coming days, he added.
BREAKING: Pentagon will now mandate all troops be vaccinated against Covid-19, following the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer shot, says @PentagonPresSec
— Lara Seligman (@laraseligman) August 23, 2021
Kirby specifically said the agency would move forward with the mandate for Pfizer’s vaccine, and wouldn’t get ahead of itself with vaccine offerings from Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval to Pfizer’s vaccine Monday, making it the first COVID-19 vaccine in the country to advance past Emergency Use Authorization.
The Pentagon already requires service members to get 17 different shots against various pathogens, according to The Hill. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin previously said a vaccine mandate could be implemented by mid-September for COVID-19.
The Department of Defense has reported a total of 34 deaths of military members during the COVID-19 pandemic from the virus. (RELATED: Fact Check: Did The Military Times Publish This Headline About COVID-19 Vaccines?)
Proponents of full authorization of the COVID-19 vaccines have argued that the change will make it easier for certain government agencies and private businesses to mandate the vaccine. Without full approval from the FDA, Austin would have to request a waiver from President Joe Biden to require the shot for service members.