Service members not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 will have to sit down for their shots soon or risk administrative or criminal action.
With the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement Monday that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has received full licensure, the Defense Department is working up a policy to begin requiring it for troops.
“A timeline for vaccination completion will be provided in the coming days,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
In an August memo, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced he would seek a waiver from the president, by mid-September, to make the vaccines mandatory during an FDA emergency use authorization.
In that memo, Austin left open the possibility that one or more of the vaccine options would become fully licensed before his September deadline, and that he would either move up his request or add them one at a time to the mandatory vaccination list.
Kirby did not clarify which course of action Austin plans to take, only that the focus for now is on the Pfizer vaccine.
“I don’t want to get ahead of decisions that haven’t been made yet,” he added.
Once the guidance is out, troops will either need to visit a military medical facility to get their doses, or show proof of outside vaccination to their chains of command, who can enter it in existing medical tracking systems.