Members of the U.S. military should receive the Covid-19 vaccine starting next month according to a plan set out by the Pentagon and endorsed by the president. Joe biden.
In memos distributed to all troops on Monday, top Pentagon leaders said the vaccine is a necessary step to maintain military readiness.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin He said the mid-September deadline could be sped up if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or if infection rates continue to rise.
“I will seek the president’s approval for vaccines to be mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately after the Food and Drug Administration licenses” whichever comes first, “Austin said in his memo, warning them to be prepare for the requirement.
The Pentagon’s plan allows time for the FDA to give final approval to the Pfizer vaccine, which is expected early next month. Without that formal approval, Austin needs a Biden waiver to make the shots mandatory, and Biden has already made it clear that he supports it.
Austin’s decision reflects similar moves by governments and businesses around the world as nations grapple with the highly contagious delta variant that has caused new cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States at levels never seen before since last winter.
Concerns are especially acute in the military, where service members live and work closely in barracks and ships, increasing the risks of rapid spread. Any large virus outbreak in the military could affect the United States’ ability to defend itself in any security crisis.
Austin cautioned that if infection rates rise and potentially affect military readiness, “I will not hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the president if I feel the need to. To defend this nation, we need a healthy and ready force. “
In a statement Monday, Biden said he strongly supports Austin’s message to force and plan to add the Covid vaccine “to the list of required vaccinations for our service members by mid-September at the latest.”
Biden said the country is still in a state of war and that “being vaccinated will allow our service members to stay healthy, better protect their families and ensure our force is ready to operate anywhere in the world.”
The United States has an average of 108,000 new infections and 700,000 vaccinations administered per day.