The Pentagon laid out a plan on Monday under which the United States military members will need to take the coronavirus vaccine starting next month. Democratic President Joe Biden also endorsed the plan of the Pentagon. In addition, top Pentagon leaders distributed memos to all military troops, which signifies that the COVID-19 vaccine is necessary to maintain military readiness.
Lloyd Austin, the United States Defense Secretary, said the mid-September deadline could be accelerated after the final Food and Drug Administration approval or infection rate continue to increase. In his memo, Austin said that he would seek approval from Biden to make the vaccines compulsory no later than mid of next month or instantly upon acceptance from the Food and Drug Administration.
I just sent a memo encouraging the Force to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and I informed them I will seek @POTUS approval to add it to the list of required vaccines for all Service members no later than mid-September, or upon @US_FDA licensure, whichever comes first. (1/2)
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) August 9, 2021
Moreover, the Pentagon plan provides time for the federal drug agency to give final approval to the Pfizer vaccine as expected in early September. Without the official approval from the agency, Austin needs a waiver from the president to make the dose mandatory. Whereas Biden already clarifies his endorsement for the mandatory vaccine shots.
Infection Rates Possibly Affect Military Readiness
The decision of the Defense Secretary reflects similar moves by companies and governments across the world, as countries struggle with highly infectious COVID delta variant that accelerated new U.S. cases, hospitalizations, and deaths since last winter. The concerns are especially severe in the military barracks and working area, where service members live and work together, which increased the risks of swift spreading.
Any large coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. military could affect the ability of America to defend itself in any security crisis. Likewise, the defense secretary warned that if virus rates increase and possibly affect military readiness, he will act more willingly or recommend a different course to Biden if he feels the need to do so. He added that to defend the country, they need a ready and healthy force.
Biden stated on Monday that the nation is still on a period of a war footing. Being vaccinated will enable the American service members to stay healthy, properly protect their families, and ensure that the U.S. force is ready to operate anywhere across the world. Roughly, the coronavirus crisis worsened across the nation, with hospitals undergoing deeper strain in unvaccinated areas of the South.
Mississippi reported that thirty-five medical centers of the state are entirely out of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. Arkansas surpassed its coronavirus outbreak record hospital admissions. The average number of people hospitalized countrywide returned to levels not seen since February. More patients admitted to emergency rooms while they wait for beds to open up, and the average number of everyday deaths is now more than five hundred.
How many troops received full vaccination?
According to the Pentagon officials, over one million United States troops received full vaccination, and around two hundred thirty-seven thousand received on shot of vaccine. However, the military services vary extensively in their vaccination rates. For example, the Navy said that over seventy-four percent of all active duty and reserves troops received at least one vaccination dose.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force said that over sixty-five percent of its on-duty and sixty-percent reserves forces are at least partly vaccinated, and the vaccination number for the Army appears closer to fifty percent. In addition, military officials said that the pace of vaccination is increasing across the American force, with some units, such as sailors deploying on a warship – seeing almost a hundred percent of vaccination rates.