The Biden administration made a major vaccination mandate measure official on Monday afternoon. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the COVID vaccination will be mandatory for military members starting on September 15 of this year, or upon official approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"I will seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon [FDA approval] whichever comes first,” Austin said in a memo, per Fox News.
President Joe Biden threw his support behind Austin’s directive, and said that the two share an “unshakable commitment” to safety for service members.
“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. 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. These vaccines will save lives. Period. They are safe. They are effective. Over 350 million shots have been given in the United States alone. Being vaccinated will enable our service members to stay healthy, to better protect their families, and to ensure that our force is ready to operate anywhere in the world,” the president said in a statement following the announcement. “We cannot let up in the fight against COVID-19, especially with the Delta variant spreading rapidly through unvaccinated populations. We are still on a wartime footing, and every American who is eligible should take immediate steps to get vaccinated right away. I am proud that our military women and men will continue to help lead the charge in the fight against this pandemic, as they so often do, by setting the example of keeping their fellow Americans safe.”
Republicans have pushed back on Austin's proposal, arguing that a mandate before full approval from the FDA is illegal.