The Pentagon said Monday that it will require service members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine now that the Pfizer vaccine has received full approval. The Department of Defense is preparing to issue a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby confirmed Monday after regulators granted full approval to the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. It was not immediately clear when the mandate would go into effect. He stated that guidelines are in the works and that a timeline will be released in the coming days.
The announcement comes after the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in people aged 16 and older. The Pentagon said this month it would seek President Joe Biden’s approval by mid-September to require 1.3 million military members to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The shots would be mandated for active duty and National Guard troops. There are more than 1.3 million on active duty and close to 800,000 in the Guard and Reserve. Concerns about the virus are especially acute in the military, where service members live and work closely together in barracks and on ships, increasing the risks of rapid spreading. Any large virus outbreak in the military could affect America’s ability to defend itself in any security crisis. Meanwhile, more than 204.7 million doses of the vaccine have been administered nationwide since regulators issued emergency use authorization for the shots in December 2020, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.