As part of a broad plan to require covid-19 vaccinations for all federal workers, President Biden announced his plan requiring all service members to be inoculated. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the mid-September timeline they are targeting could move up if the vaccine from Pfizer receives final FDA approval, or if the infection rate continues to rise.
The announcement was made in the wake of the Delta variant of covid-19, which is increasing hospitalization and death rates to levels not seen since last winter before vaccines were widely available. The military is especially concerned about the security of the United States if the virus spreads amongst the troops, especially since service members live and work so closely together, and they are no longer effectively able to perform their assigned duties.
“I strongly support Secretary Austin’s message to the Force today on the Department of Defense’s plan to add the covid-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for our service members not later than mid-September,” said President Biden in a statement released earlier this week. “Secretary Austin and I share an unshakable commitment to making sure our troops have every tool they need to do their jobs as safely as possible. The vaccines will save lives. Period.”
Service members already have a long list of required vaccines they need to have before joining active duty. Depending on their service area, this can mean some troops may receive as many as 17 different vaccines.
As expected, there is some opposition coming from the troops. Some have stated they will only get the shot if it is required, others remain vehemently opposed to being forced to do so. However, once the vaccine is mandated by the Pentagon, a refusal to get the covid-19 shot could constitute failure to obey an order, which could result in disciplinary action.
According to the Department of Defense, 73 percent of active-duty personnel have already received at least one dose of the vaccine.