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World

Pentagon set to make Pfizer vaccine mandatory after FDA approval

  • The Pentagon said this month it would seek President Joe Biden's approval by mid-September to require 1.3 million military members to get vaccinated against COVID-19
23 Aug 2021

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon is preparing to issue updated guidance to require all US service personnel to be vaccinated after Monday's approval of the Pfizer Inc /BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

Kirby told a briefing the completion date for vaccine guidance was still being worked on.

The FDA granted full approval on Monday to the vaccine, which had earned emergency-use authorization in December, making it the first to secure such validation as US health authorities struggle to win over vaccine skeptics.

US FDA grants full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

Asked if similar guidance could be given for other COVID-19 vaccines, Kirby replied: "Right now we're focused on the Pfizer vaccine because of the FDA approval that came in this morning."

The Pentagon said this month it would seek President Joe Biden's approval by mid-September to require 1.3 million military members to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

After setting COVID-19 rules for federal workers, Biden last month directed the Pentagon to look into "how and when" it would require members of the military to take the vaccine. Biden said then he strongly supported the Pentagon's plan to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for service members by mid-September.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said the deadline could be moved up if the FDA approved the vaccine earlier.

The US military said this month that around half the US armed forces are already fully vaccinated, a number that climbs significantly when counting only active-duty troops and excluding National Guard and Reserve members.

Pfizer submits initial data for COVID-19 vaccine booster authorization

Vaccination rates are highest in the Navy, which suffered from a high-profile outbreak last year aboard an aircraft carrier. About 73% of sailors are fully vaccinated, compared with the US national average of about 60% of adults ages 18 and over.

Because US service members are generally younger and fitter, relatively few of them have died as a result of COVID-19 - just 28 in total, according to Pentagon data.

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