WASHINGTON — All U.S. military members will be required to get the Covid-19 vaccine by no later than mid-September, according to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in a memo to the Force.
The deadline could be pushed up if the Food and Drug Administration gives final approval to the Pfizer vaccine, which is expected early next month. The military will have the next few weeks “preparing for this transition,” said Austin.
Last month, as a result of the spike in Covid cases, Biden said that federal employees will be asked to attest to their vaccination status, and those who do not attest to being fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask and socially distance from other employees and visitors.
President Joe Biden, in a statement Monday, commended the new mandate by Austin.
“I am proud that our military women and men will continue to help lead the charge in the fight against this pandemic, as they so often do, by setting the example of keeping their fellow Americans safe,” said Biden.
More than 1 million members of the military are fully vaccinated and another 237,000 are partially vaccinated, according to the Defense Department. The Army has the most servicemembers fully vaccinated, with the Navy and Air Force not far behind.
In an interview with NBC’s Today, Biden said that he wouldn’t demand the military to get the vaccines, but didn’t rule it out. The military has struggled to get all service members vaccinated, as internet rumors and messaging confusion curbed many troops from wanting the shot.
Biden, at the time, alluded to the fact that military members are in such close proximity with other military personnel, “whether you’re in a quarters where you’re all sleeping or whether you’re out in maneuvers.”
Austin said he will be monitoring the infection rates closely and won’t hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if he feels the need to do so.
This content was originally published here.