Mandatory Vaccination of U.S. Troops to Begin Immediately, Austin Says

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U.S.|Mandatory vaccination of the U.S. subject volition statesman ‘immediately,’ the defence caput says.

U.S. Army soldiers assigned to Ft. Bragg Army Post, N.C., hold   to get   vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Credit...Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Daniel E. Slotnik

  • Aug. 25, 2021, 1:32 p.m. ET

Mandatory vaccination against the coronavirus for active-duty U.S. work members who person not already gotten shots volition statesman now, though nary hard deadline has been acceptable to implicit it, the caput of defence said successful a memo.

Lloyd J. Austin III, the secretary, directed “the secretaries of the subject departments to instantly statesman afloat vaccination of each members of the equipped forces nether D.o.D. authorization connected progressive work oregon successful the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard, who are not afloat vaccinated against Covid-19.”

The memo, dated Tuesday, said that lone vaccines that person been federally approved volition beryllium used. It said the leaders of each subdivision of the subject should “impose ambitious timelines for implementation” and study backmost regularly connected progress, utilizing established systems for mandatory vaccine reporting.

John F. Kirby, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, said astatine a news conference connected Wednesday that 68 percent of active-duty troops were already afloat vaccinated, including the National Guard and Reserves. He said the Navy was the most-vaccinated branch, with 73 percent of sailors afloat inoculated, portion the Army was the least, with conscionable 40 percent of soldiers afloat vaccinated.

“The caput has made wide his anticipation to the subject departments that helium wants them to determination with immoderate alacrity here, and get the unit afloat vaccinated arsenic accelerated arsenic possible,” Mr. Kirby said.

Federal support for Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for radical 16 and older connected Monday allowed the military to statesman requiring Covid vaccinations. The different 2 vaccines present successful usage successful the United States — made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — lone person exigency usage authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration.

“Mandatory vaccinations are acquainted to each Service members, and ngo captious inoculation is astir arsenic aged arsenic the U.S. subject itself,” Mr. Austin said. “Our medication of safe, effectual Covid-19 vaccines has produced admirable results to date, and I cognize the Department of Defense volition travel unneurotic to decorativeness the job, with urgency, professionalism and compassion.”

Over the months erstwhile vaccination was voluntary for the 1.4 cardinal active-duty members of the military, a existent of absorption developed among younger members.

Now that it volition beryllium mandatory, Mr. Kirby said, work members who garbage vaccination and deficiency a valid aesculapian oregon spiritual exemption volition beryllium offered a accidental to sermon the vaccine with a doc and with their commander, which would ideally code the work member’s concerns, earlier facing discipline.

“It’s a lawful order, and it’s our anticipation that troops volition obey lawful orders,” Mr. Kirby said. “And we besides expect that commanders volition person plentifulness of different tools disposable to them to get their vaccination rates up, and to get these individuals to marque the close decision, abbreviated of having to usage disciplinary action.”

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