Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Monday that he will seek the president's approval to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine by mid-September if the Food and Drug Administration doesn't approve it before then. This will mark the 18th vaccine to be mandated for the armed forces, though it's unlikely that a service member would receive all of them because many are location-specific, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday.
The Defense Department's vaccine mandates are separated by the combatant commands that divide the globe into seven entities: Africa Command, Central Command, European Command, Indo-Pacific Command, Northern Command, Northern Command, and Space Command.
There are nine vaccines that are mandated for military members in any of the six earthbound commands: chickenpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, MMR, pneumococcal, rabies, Tdap, typhoid, polio, and influenza, according to the Military Health System.
Other vaccines that are required for some commands but not all include anthrax, yellow fever, and Japanese encephalitis.
President Joe Biden signaled his intent to grant Austin's waiver request, if the mid-September deadline arrives before the FDA approval, shortly after the defense secretary announced the plan.
"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," the president said.
House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mike Rogers said in a statement responding to the news, "We must not allow COVID-19 to be a hindrance to our force. ... I hope that number reaches 100% quickly."
Nearly 75% of active-duty forces have already been vaccinated, according to Defense Department officials. The Pentagon has been coy about what will happen if military members refuse to obtain the vaccine without a proper exemption.
There were roughly 1,045,000 fully vaccinated military members and 237,000 partially vaccinated service members as of Aug. 4, according to data from the Department of Defense. Just under 1,900 military members have been hospitalized after becoming infected with the coronavirus, and 28 have died.
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Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: 17 vaccines mandated by the US military before COVID-19 shots