The Pentagon is set to require COVID-19 vaccines for members of the United States military, a memo sent by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and obtained by The Associated Press shows.
The decision will make the armed services the latest sector in the U.S. to have a vaccine mandate amid a Delta variant-fueld nationwide increase in coronavirus infections. "I will seek [President Biden's] approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September," Austin wrote in the memo, though he clarified the requirement could come into play sooner than that if the Food and Drug Administration removes the emergency use label from the currently avaible vacciners ahead of schedule.
Until the FDA acts, Austin will need a waiver from Biden to impose the mandate, but there doesn't seem to be any risk that the president will turn down the request since Biden himself told defense officials to draw up the strategy, AP notes.
As things stand, per AP, the Navy has said 74 percent of all active duty and reserve sailors have received at least one shot, while the Air Force clocks in at 65 percent. The Army has the lowest number, which appears to be around 50 percent. Read more at The Associated Press.