Amid the spread of the delta variant and Democrats pushing the notion that more lockdowns are imperative, the Biden administration confirmed Monday that all members of the United States military are required to get vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 15.
“I will seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon” the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approving them, “whichever comes first,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in a memo to troops Monday, unveiling the mandate.
Austin also wrote, “I will not hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if l feel the need to do so. To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force.”
There are 1.3 million active-duty troops. It is unclear how the Pentagon chief’s remarks bode with Democrats’ continuous calls to “follow the science,” given that the FDA concerns itself with regulating “public health.”
Austin to order mandatory coronavirus vaccines for 1.3 million active duty American troops once FDA issues full approval for the inoculation — and if FDA doesn’t do so by Sept. 15, he will mandate vaccines anyway. @helenecooper @jestei https://t.co/F0TXsuwxYj
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) August 9, 2021
Last week, President Joe Biden instructed officials in the Defense Department to craft plans to put vaccine mandates in place. The administration instituted a vaccination requirement for all federal employees, or otherwise be subjected to routine testing and mask mandates.
Data from the Pentagon indicate that 1 million troops have been fully vaccinated and close to 240,000 have gotten at least one dose. Austin’s memo says that the Pentagon will abide by the prior order permitting alternative restrictions until September.
Shortly after the memo was released, Biden announced his support for the initiative.
“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,” the president said. “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.”