(Washington) The COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory “by mid-September” for all members of the US military, the Secretary of Defense said on Monday, a decision that Joe Biden “strongly supports”.
Posted on Aug 9, 2021 at 1:55 pm Updated at 2:14 pm
Paul HANDLEY Agence France-Presse
In a note to Pentagon staff, Lloyd Austin stated that he will ask the Democratic President to formally approve this decision in about five weeks, unless Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine is approved prior to full clearance by the U.S. Medicines Agency FDA procured.
Such approval could come in early September, according to some officials.
Because COVID-19 vaccines have only received emergency clearance from the FDA so far, the Pentagon has not imposed it on its troops like it has with other vaccines.
Such a measure would indeed have opened the door to redress, unless the President intervenes and decides on an exemption.
If the FDA doesn’t give full clearance for Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine – or any drug used in the United States – by mid-September, the secretary said he would seek such a waiver from Joe Biden.
The president said in a statement Monday that he had “shared an unwavering commitment with his defense minister to ensure that our forces have all the tools they need to do their jobs as safely as possible”.
Currently, 73% of the 1.4 million active soldiers have received at least one injection, but with the 1.1 million reserve soldiers that rate drops to 56%, while the percentage within America’s population is now 58.8%.
17 mandatory vaccinations
Some senior US officials are also concerned about the impact the virus could potentially have on troops and combat operations.
House-elected Republican Representative Mike Rogers, a member of the Armed Forces Committee, emphasized the importance of vaccines in military preparation.
“Vaccines protect our men and women [des forces armées] many of them have to live in confined spaces and crowded places, ”he argued.
US military personnel are currently reported to have received 17 vaccines for a variety of diseases – all of them FDA-cleared.
In late July, Joe Biden asked the military to consider “how and when” the vaccine against COVID-19 should be added to the list of mandatory vaccines for the troops.
At the same time, the White House had declared that millions of federal employees would either need to be vaccinated or comply with a number of requirements.
More than half (50.2%) of the American population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to health officials in the United States, as the country has been suffering from an outbreak of the variant-related epidemic for several weeks.
The mass vaccination campaign was promoted by the Biden administration immediately after taking office. But after a peak in early April, the pace of daily vaccinations had dropped sharply.
Joe Biden’s goal of 70% of adults receiving at least one injection wasn’t finally achieved until early last week, almost a month later.
However, the number of vaccinations has recovered slightly since the beginning of July.