On Monday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the Pentagon will be requiring all troops to get vaccinated by September 15th.
AP News reports that Pentagon leaders say the vaccine is the next necessary step to maintain military readiness. If the vaccine receives FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise, the deadline may be moved up. “I will seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon” licensure by the Food and Drug Administration “whichever comes first,” Austin said in his memo.
The Pentagon plan allows time for final approval to be given to the Pfizer vaccine by the FDA, which is expected to be next month. Without the approval, the vaccines cannot be mandatory unless Biden signs a waiver. Biden has already shown his support for the mandate. “I will not hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if I feel the need to do so. To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force,” Austin said.
The United States and other world governments are faced with the highly contagious delta variant, which has resulted in an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. The decision for troops to get vaccinated comes from a broader campaign to increase vaccinations among federal workers. The United States is averaging about 108,000 new infections and administering 700,000 vaccines a day.
“Some may try and criticize the Secretary’s decision, using anti-vax arguments that are not supported by facts or science to politicize the conversation. These desperate attention seekers must be ignored,” Rep. Adam Smith (D) of Washington said. Some Republicans have expressed their support for the decision, while others have advocated for military personnel’s right to choose.
ARTICLE: JILLIAN WEIDNER
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WFLA.COM
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