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Servicemembers Will Soon Be Required to Get COVID-19 Vaccine, Defense Secretary Says

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U.S. military service members in Alaska and worldwide will be required to get COVID-19 vaccines, beginning next month.Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced this morning that he’s ordering mandatory vaccinations in response to President Biden’s request to add the vaccine to the list of those that service members are already required to get.

Austin says he’s asked the president to approve of his plan to implement the new policy by mid-September. Or, he says, the policy will become effective immediately after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approves licensure of one of the COVID vaccines that are now widely available. Whichever comes first.

Austin said in a news release issued this morning that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is likely to achieve full FDA licensure early next month.

He says the armed services will begin preparations for administering vaccines to personnel who haven’t yet gotten the vaccine as soon as president OKs the plan or the FDA approves full licensure.

Austin says he consulted with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley over the past week on his vaccine-mandate plan, as well as the armed services secretaries and medical professionals.