As a necessary step to maintain military readiness, all members of the U.S. military will have to get the Covid-19 vaccine by mid-September or when the jabs get Food and Drug Administration’s approval, says US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s memo distributed to all troops and quoted by the AP.
Any member of the military who refuses the vaccine once the mandate is in place could be punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for failure to obey an order.
Under the plan laid out by the Pentagon and endorsed by President Joe Biden, there’s a need to make the vaccines mandatory since the US need a healthy and ready force to defend the nation, but Austin would need a waiver from the White House for that since all three jabs- Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s- are only authorized by the US government for emergency use.
Until the full FDA approval comes a waiver will be necessary, which explains the five-week notice, but there are media speculations that FDA will approve Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine in early September and the Moderna’s jab will be next.
Biden strongly supported in a statement Monday Austin’s plan to add the Covid vaccine to the list of mandatory vaccinations for US service members not later than mid-September considering that the US is still on a wartime footing and its forces must be ready to operate anywhere in the world.
The US military will have the next few weeks to determine the number of vaccines they need and how this mandate will be implemented while the administration is preparing the overcome the bitter political divide since the mandatory vaccination will most likely trigger opposition among members of federal governments, Congress and the American population.