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Pentagon to make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for military

Now that the Pfizer vaccine is FDA approved, all military personnel will have to become vaccinated against COVID-19.

John Kirby Getty Images

All members of the United States military will have to become vaccinated against COVID-19 now that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On Monday (Aug. 23), John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, announced that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was “prepared to issue updated guidance requiring all service members to be vaccinated.”

“These efforts ensure the safety of our service members and promote the readiness of our force, not to mention the health and safety of the communities around the country in which we live,” he said.

A timeline for when all service members will have to receive the shot will be announced in the next few days.

During the press conference, Kirby did not comment on the Pentagon’s plans to mandate the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, saying that their main focus now was “moving forward to implement a mandatory vaccination regimen for Pfizer.”

“I don’t want to get ahead of decisions that haven’t been made yet,” he added.

Earlier Monday, the FDA granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to increase vaccinations and create more mandates across the nation. The vaccine is now fully approved to be used by people who are 16 and older and will be marketed as “Comirnaty.” People who are 12 to 15 years old can still receive the vaccine under emergency use.

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product.”

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