(ABC4) – The U.S. is now ordering service members to get the COVID-19 vaccine “immediately,” according to a Pentagon memo released Wednesday. This comes just days after the Pentagon announced it will require service members to get the vaccine now that the Pfizer vaccine has received full approval from the FDA.
On Monday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is making good on his vow earlier this month to require the shots once the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine. In a memo Aug. 9, Austin said he’d seek the president’s approval to make the vaccine mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon FDA licensure “whichever comes first.”
According to The Hill, while Austin has ordered service members to “immediately begin” receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, there is no timeline for when troops are required to get the shot. Roughly 80,000 active duty, National Guard, and Ready Reserve troops have yet to receive the vaccine, the Defense Department reports.
“To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force. After careful consultation with medical experts and military leadership, and with the support of the President, I have determined that mandatory vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is necessary to protect the Force and defend the American people,” Austin writes in the memo, The Hill reports.
Companies like Walt Disney World, Goldman Sachs, and CVS have begun requiring their employees to get vaccinated.