The Pentagon is making moves to require all members of the U.S. military to get the Covid-19 vaccine or face possible consequences under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Per the AP, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is sending a memo to troops Monday outlining the plan to get everyone vaccinated by September 15th, a date that could be shifted should the vaccine get final FDA approval — or if infection rates continue to surge. If said approval does not come in time, Austin would have to seek a waiver from Biden to make the shot mandatory. Service members are already required to get up to 17 vaccines.
“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,” Austin wrote. The decision is part of President Biden’s plan to increase vaccinations within the federal workforce.
More than 1 million troops are currently vaccinated, while an additional 237,000 have received one shot. Although a sizable portion of armed service members are vaccinated, there is still opposition to the shot, and those who refuse the vaccine could face disciplinary measures.
Per the Army: If a soldier “fails to comply with a lawful order to receive a mandatory vaccine, and does not have an approved exemption, a commander may take appropriate disciplinary action.”
Biden previously announced that he will require all federal employees and contractors to either attest that they were vaccinated against Covid-19, or submit to a variety of preventative protocols including regular testing, mask-wearing, and social distancing.
“Every federal government employee will be asked to attest to their vaccination status,” Biden said. “Anyone who doesn’t attest or isn’t vaccinated is required to mask — no matter where they work —test one or two times a week, social distance and generally will not be able to travel for work.”