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WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to reports, the Pentagon is considering the possibility of making COVID-19 inoculations mandatory for all personnel if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives the vaccines their full approval, causing uproar from some service members who are against the idea of being vaccinated.
Approximately 70 percent of military members have received at least one does of a COVID-19 vaccine, and if the FDA grants their full approval – currently the vaccines are under emergency use authorization only – military officials are weighing making the jabs mandatory, as is their requirement with as many as 17 other vaccinations.
However, for the time being, the COVID-19 vaccinations are remaining strictly voluntary, according to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby at a Tuesday press briefing.
“Right now it’s being used under Emergency Use Authorization. It is not FDA approved, and therefore, it is still a voluntary vaccine,” he said. “Should the FDA approve it, then I am certain that Pentagon leadership will take a look at what our options are going forward, including the potential option of making mandatory.”
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“They’re safe, they’re effective, and it’s really the best incentive to protect you, your families and your teammates,” Kirby added in regards to the vaccines.
This past weekend Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) said on Twitter that he had been contacted by several servicemen and women who insisted that they would “quit” if COVID-19 vaccination became an order; the tweet received both positive and negative responses, with some pointing out that military members are unable to quit as they have signed enlistment contracts.
Massie later tweeted “NO ONE should be forced or coerced by ANYONE to take the COVID vaccine. The fact that policy discussions in the US are centered around ‘proof of vaccine’ instead of ‘evidence of immunity’ shows that science and reason have been drummed out by politics, profits, and superstition.”
President Joe Biden, when asked in April about the issue of mandatory military vaccinations, responded by saying “I’m going to leave it to the military,” but did state that it might be a good idea since “You are in such close proximity of other military personnel, whether you are in a quarters where you are all sleeping or you are out on maneuvers.”
Earlier this week the Army Times stated that they had obtained an internal memo that informed commanders to “prepare for a directive to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for service members (on or around) 01 September 2021, pending full FDA licensure.” When contacted about the memo, an Army spokesperson stated that “As a matter of policy we do not comment on leaked documents.”