The Pentagon has said it will update its own guidance on Covid-19 vaccinations, mandating the jab for all military personnel, following the US drug regulator’s decision to fully approve the Pfizer vaccine.
Speaking on Monday, US Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said the military was aware of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to fully approve the Pfizer vaccine for use in people over 16, and was preparing to issue updated guidance to all service personnel.
“We’re going to move forward making that vaccine mandatory,” Kirby told reporters. “We’re preparing the guidance to the force right now,” he stated, adding that the exact timetable for mandating the jab was still being worked out.
Earlier on Monday, the FDA announced that the Pfizer jab had been fully approved for use in the US. The shot has been administered under emergency-use authorization since mid-December 2020.
The FDA added that the Pfizer vaccine will retain its emergency-use authorization for use in adolescents and for those requiring a third dose due to other health conditions.
Earlier in August, the Washington Post reported that around 65% of active-duty military personnel were fully vaccinated, compared to around 59% of eligible Americans.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has previously encouraged all military personnel to get vaccinated against Covid. “To defend this nation, we need a healthy and ready force. I strongly encourage all DoD military and civilian personnel – as well as contractor personnel – to get vaccinated now and for military service members to not wait for the mandate,” Austin stated earlier in August.
President Joe Biden has also said he backed a move to mandate vaccinations for US military service personnel, adding that it should happen no “later than mid-September.”