Biden Supports Pentagon’s Plan to Require COVID Vaccination by Mid-September
© AP Photo / Charles DharapakThis March 27, 2008, file photo, shows the Pentagon in Washington. The Pentagon said Tuesday, July 6, 2021, that it is canceling a cloud-computing contract with Microsoft that could eventually have been worth $10 billion and will instead pursue a deal with both Microsoft and Amazon. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
© AP Photo / Charles Dharapak
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Joe Biden released a statement on Monday expressing his support for Defense Secretary Austin’s decision to seek a waiver to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the mandated vaccine list for military members in mid-September should the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not approve it by then.
Biden said that he was proud of the military for helping to lead the fight against the pandemic and “setting the example of keeping their fellow Americans safe.”
“I strongly support Secretary Austin’s message to the Force today on the Department of Defense’s plan to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for our service members not later than mid-September," Biden said. "Secretary Austin and I share an unshakable commitment to making sure our troops have every tool they need to do their jobs as safely as possible.”
Austin released a memo earlier on Monday saying that the Defense Department intends to make the vaccinations mandatory for service members by mid-September or when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially approves it, whichever comes first.
“[Austin] will request approval from the president for a waiver to make the COVID vaccine mandatory by mid-September,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said, noting that the memo is not intended to suggest that service members need to be vaccinated by then.
The US military will have the next several weeks to prepare to implement the vaccine mandate, Austin said, adding that he has “every confidence” that commanders will implement it with professionalism, skill, and compassion.
Kirby said that each branch of the military would individually work on implementing the mandate in their service and that Austin does not expect it to take long for them to deliver their implementation plans to him.