The Pentagon ordered all active service members to undergo the COVID-19 vaccinations, effective immediately. The announcement came today from Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin.
Pentagon Orders COVID-19 Vaccinations
Austin issued a memorandum today, outlining the updated policy. It accelerates an earlier plan calling for all service members to receive vaccinations by Sept. 15. The new policy comes on the heels of FDA approval for the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine.
“To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force,” Austin said in the memo. “After careful consultation with medical experts and military leadership, and with the support of the President, I have determined that mandatory vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is necessary to protect the Force and defend the American people.”
The guidance directs the immediate action fo fully vaccinate all members of the Armed Forces, including active duty and Ready Reserve. It further directs all National Guard not already vaccinated to do so.
The mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 will use only vaccines fully approved by the FDA, according to the Pentagon. All those service members already vaccinated with doses authorized under the FDA Emergency Use Authorization are exempt. Further, the new policy exempts service members actively participating in COVID-19 clinical trials until completed.
Finally, the guidance directs Secretaries of the Military Departments to “impose ambitious timelines for implementation” of the vaccination program.
Mandatory vaccinations are familiar to all of our service members, and mission-critical inoculation is almost as old as the U.S. military itself,” Austin said in the memo. “Our administration of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines has produced admirable results to date, and I know the Department of Defense will come together to finish the job, with urgency, professionalism, and compassion.”