Pentagon pushes to make COVID vaccines mandatory for all service members

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — COVID-19 vaccines could become mandatory for active duty military.

“We’re seeing an uptick in cases, uptick in hospitalizations across the force, as we are in the country,” said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

Kirby said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will seek a vaccine mandate from President Joe Biden.

“He’ll make the request for the waiver by mid-September,” Kirby said.

Secretary Austin said in a statement, “To defend this nation, we need a healthy and ready force.”

He encouraged all DOD military and civilian and contractor personnel to get vaccinated and not wait for the mandate.

“If he needs to move, act sooner than this timeline, then he’ll do that, so we’re going to watch the trends and make sure that we’re keeping readiness of the force,” Kirby said.

“We should not be mandating this,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

Johnson says he’s spoken to many service members who are against this call, as the FDA has not yet approved the COVID vaccine.

“They don’t want to be forced to take a vaccine that either isn’t fully approved, or where the full approval process has been short circuited and they still don’t have confidence in the ultimate safety or efficacy of this,” Johnson said.

Kirby said the DOD will also develop policies and restrictions that the unvaccinated will have to follow.

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