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Pentagon to mandate Covid-19 vaccination for all troops by September 15

Last week, the president asked top defense officials to come up with a plan of action for mandatory vaccinations across U.S. military forces

Updated: August 9, 2021 - 4:53pm

The Pentagon will require members of the United States military to receive the Covid-19 vaccine by September 15, according to a memo from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

The Secretary wrote that he "will seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September," or when the FDA formally grants licensure to the vaccines, "whichever comes first."

"I will not hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if l feel the need to do so. To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force," he continued, noting that this could become the case should infection rates continue to rise. 

The Pentagon leader's decision comes little more than a week following President Joe Biden's instructions to military and defense officials to develop a plan requiring troops get shots. 

Austin says pertinent personnel will have the next few weeks to figure out how many vaccines are needed and how to best implement the mandate, it also grants the FDA a final stretch of time to given formal approval to the Pfizer vaccine, which is anticipated in early September. Without formal FDA approval, Austin will require a waiver from the president in order to enforce a mandatory vaccination policy. 

Service members will be able to seek exemption from the vaccine for a number of reasons including health issues and religious beliefs.