On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that the military will begin taking steps to make the COVID-19 vaccine obligatory for uniformed service members.
Biden directs the military to move toward making the COVID vaccine mandatory.
In remarks at the White House, Biden refrained from immediately enforcing a vaccine mandate. He has, however, requested that the Defense Department investigate how and when the military would add COVID-19 immunizations to the list of other vaccinations that service personnel must obtain.
Because troops frequently deploy in areas where vaccination rates are low and COVID is rampant, Biden believes that making the immunizations mandatory is critical. “Men and women in duty who safeguard this country from significant threats should be protected from getting COVID-19 as much as possible,” he said.
COVID vaccinations are now accessible for use in an emergency.
The military has stated that the vaccines would not be made mandatory for service members until the Food and Drug Administration gives them complete approval. “I know he’s open to it,” Biden responded when asked if Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is open to forcing troop vaccinations before the vaccine is completely certified by the FDA. When is the best time to get the most bang for your buck, is the question “Biden went on. “A lot of it comes down to timing. Biden stated that he would not put any pressure on health agencies to reach a decision on the vaccine’s approval, but that he believes they will do so in the early fall.
Vaccination rates in the military are slowing, as they are in other parts of the country. Austin stated in mid-July that 70% of active-duty personnel had received at least one vaccine shot, and 62 percent had been fully vaccinated. More than 1 million military members are fully vaccinated, according to the Pentagon’s COVID website, with another 233,000 partially vaccinated.
That translates to at least 60% of the 2.1 million-strong military force, including active, Guard, and reserve forces, being at least partially vaccinated, however not all Guard and reserve troops may be included in those figures. Biden’s mandate, along with other steps he announced to encourage and make it simpler for civilians to be vaccinated, comes at a time when vaccination rates are dropping and fears about a more transmissible coronavirus mutation known as the Delta variant are spreading.
The military followed the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention’s recommendation earlier this week that even fully vaccinated persons wear masks indoors in areas of the country where the virus is quickly spreading. Even though its location in Arlington, Virginia, sees only minimal COVID distribution generally, the heavily visited Pentagon reimposed its own mask mandates. Biden criticized how COVID immunizations have been politicized by some in his speech at the White House, and commended Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey for encouraging individuals in their states to get the doses.
“This isn’t a fight between red and blue states; it’s a fight between life and death,” Biden added. “I’m aware that people talk about liberty. Growing up, I realized that with freedom comes responsibility. Someone else is impacted by your decision to not get vaccinated. People who have not been vaccinated spread the virus. As a result, please use your best judgment. “Get yourself vaccinated.” He went on to say, “It’s an American blessing that we have immunizations for every American.” “It’s such a pity to squander that opportunity.”
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