The Pentagon has stated that it is now going to move forward with plans to mandate all military members receive the COVID-19 vaccine following the decision by the Food and Drug Administration to issue full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech two-dose shot.
The announcement by the FDA was released on Monday morning, and Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby then told reporters who were at the briefing there would be an update to guidance coming very shortly.
“The department is prepared to issue updated guidance requiring all service members to be vaccinated. A timeline for vaccination completion will be provided in the coming days,” he went on to explain.
Similar to any of the other 17 mandated vaccines for military members, a soldier may be exempt from taking the COVID-19 jabs for medical or religious reasons.
For those who are “just objecting because you’re objecting, once it has become mandatory, that’s a lawful order, and our expectation is that you’re going to obey the order,” Kirby had said earlier this month . “Nobody is looking for strong punitive disciplinary measures.”
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that he would seek President Joe Biden’s approval to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine by mid-September if the FDA hadn’t yet fully approved one of the vaccines. The president indicated his support for Austin’s plan to mandate the vaccine shortly after it was announced.
Kirby declined to comment about whether Austin would seek a waiver from the president to mandate either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines by the previously set mid-September deadline, neither of which have received the FDA’s full approval.
Kirby then went on to say the Department of Defense will have “counseling provided to any member of the military who doesn’t want to take it for other reasons than religion or medical. And we’ll talk to them. Their command will talk to them. Medical professionals will talk to them, try to inform and educate, answer any questions that they have,” going on to add that commanders do have “tools” that are available to them “short of disciplinary action.”