After FDA Approval, Pentagon Says Vaccine Is Mandatory

Pentagon will release timeline, discuss other shots later
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2021 3:20 PM CDT
After FDA Approval, Pentagon Says Vaccine Is Mandatory
File photo of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The Pentagon confirmed that all service members will be required to get vaccinated against COVID.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(Newser) – Military service members are now required to get the COVID vaccine. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby says Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will follow through on the plan to mandate that the military get the shot once it reaches full FDA approval, the AP reports. The Pfizer vaccine was approved Monday morning. A timeline for getting service members vaccinated hasn’t been released yet, but earlier this month Austin proposed a Sept. 15 deadline. So far vaccination plans only include Pfizer and not the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots, the Hill reports. Moderna has also applied to the FDA for full approval, while Johnson & Johnson plans to apply later this year.

Troops can ask for exemptions for health or religious reasons. The COVID vaccine isn’t the only shot the Pentagon mandates for the military. Soldiers can be required to be vaccinated against anthrax, chicken pox, and the flu, the AP reports. About half of military personnel are already vaccinated. The Navy has the highest rate at about 73%, having already lived through a high-profile outbreak on an aircraft carrier early in the pandemic, Reuters reports. "Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a key force protection and readiness issue," Gen. Mark Milley wrote in a note to service members earlier this month. (Read more Pentagon stories.)

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