Covid vaccine to be required for military under new US plan

COVID vaccines to be required for military under new US plan
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: US military personnel will be required to get the coronavirus vaccine beginning next month under a plan laid out by the Pentagon on Monday, which was endorsed by President Joe Biden. In memos distributed to all soldiers, top Pentagon leaders said the Covid-19 vaccine is a necessary step to maintain military readiness.

Lloyd Austin, the US Defense Secretary, said the deadline, which will be mid-September, could be accelerated if the vaccine receives final approval from the FDA or infection rates continue to rise.

In his memo, Lloyd Austin said he will seek president Biden’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon licensure by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “whichever comes first”.

The Pentagon plan provides time for the Food and Drug Administration to give final approval to the Pfizer vaccine, which is expected early next month.

Without that formal approval of vaccines, the US Defense Secretary needs a waiver from president Biden to make the shots mandatory, and Biden has already made clear he supports it.

Austin’s decision reflects similar steps by many companies and governments around the world, as countries struggle with the highly contagious delta variant of the virus that has sent new US cases, deaths and hospitalizations rising to heights not seen since last winter.

The concerns are especially acute in the military, where troops live and work closely together on ships and in barracks, increasing the risks of rapid spreading. Any large coronavirus outbreak in the military could affect America’s ability to defend itself in any security crisis.

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