It comes hours after President Joe Biden said that he will ask the Department of Defense (DOD) to look into “how and when” it will mandate service members get the vaccine amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
“The Department of Defense is moving quickly to meet President Biden’s commitment to defeat COVID-19, and that includes being able to ensure every member of our civilian and military workforce is protected,” Deputy Pentagon press secretary Jamal Brown said in a July 29 statement.
“In accordance with the guidance the President issued today, all military and civilian DoD personnel will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Personnel unable or unwilling to do that will be required to wear a mask, physically distance, comply with a regular testing requirement and be subject to official travel restrictions.
“Secretary Austin will also begin consulting our medical professionals, as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to determine how and when to make recommendations to the President with respect to adding the COVID-19 vaccines to the full list of requirements for military personnel.”
Brown noted that the rise of the Delta COVID-19 variant has prompted the need to take additional protective efforts within the military.
“COVID-19 remains a significant and evolving threat to our nation’s security,” and vaccines “remain the best and most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID, including the Delta variant.”
Currently, the DOD requires servicemen and women to get 17 vaccines, including shots against measles, mumps, diphtheria, hepatitis, smallpox, and the flu.
But it so far hasn’t mandated the COVID-19 vaccine while it remains under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) emergency use authorization—a designation that allows for distribution and administration but also requires informed consent by patients.
Earlier this month, the Army Times reported that the Army has directed commands to prepare to administer mandatory COVID-19 vaccines as early as Sept. 1, pending full FDA licensure.
The directive came from an execute order sent to the force by the Department of the Army Headquarters, according to the publication.
Also on July 29, the Biden administration stated that federal workers and contractors will have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or else wear masks, engage in social distancing, and submit to regular COVID-19 testing.
“Right now, too many people are dying or watching someone they love die and say if ‘I’d just got the vaccine,'” Biden said in the East Room of the White House. “This is an American tragedy. People are dying who don’t have to die.”
The White House said in a statement that the new rules were laid out because of the Delta variant.
“Anyone who does not attest to being fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel,” the White House stated in a fact sheet.
About 60 percent of American adults have been fully vaccinated to date. Biden had set a July 4 goal to get at least one COVID-19 shot in 70 percent of adults. The latest figure is about 69 percent.