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US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Source: Reuters
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  • The US Pentagon says it will look to mandate vaccines for all troops by mid-September, according to a statement from the Department of Defense this week
  • President Joe Biden says he supports the plan as the White House anticipates full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for vaccines by then
  • Over 73 per cent of active US active-duty personnel have already received at least one jab, according to the Defense Department
  • While the plan is for a mid-September military mandate, there is currently no deadline for all troops to be fully vaccinated
  • The shift toward compulsory vaccination comes as the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreads rapidly in the US and several other places around the world

The US Pentagon will look to mandate vaccines for all troops by mid-September, according to a statement from the Department of Defense this week.

A department spokesperson said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will seek approval from President Joe Biden to implement the mandate, anticipating full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for COVID-19 vaccines by then.

COVID-19 vaccines are currently approved under emergency use authorisation only.

In July, President Biden directed the Defense Department to look into “how and when” it will add COVID-19 to the list of vaccines needed for US armed forces.

“I think this is particularly important because our troops serve in place throughout the world, many where vaccination rates are low and disease is prevalent,” President Biden said at the time.

This week, President Biden voiced his support for his Defense Secretary’s mid-September target in a statement released by the White House.

“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,” President Bided said.

“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.”

Over 73 per cent of active US active-duty personnel have already received at least one jab, according to the Defense Department, with over 350 million shots having been administered across the States. More than half of the US military is fully vaccinated.

While the plan is for a mid-September military mandate, this could be brought forward if the FDA approves the vaccines earlier.

However, there is currently no deadline for all troops to be fully vaccinated should the mandate come into effect when planned.

Mandatory vaccines are becoming a wider trend in both the public and private sectors of the United States.

In July, several tech giants announced they would be requiring all staff to be fully vaccinated in order to be allowed on company campuses in the US.

At the same time, several state governments have introduced mandatory vaccine policies for employees, including New York, Virginia and California.

Just this week, the head of the second-largest teachers’ union in the US voiced her support for mandatory jabs for teaching staff.

The shift toward compulsory vaccination comes as the Delta variant of COVID-19 — which first originated in India — spreads rapidly in the US and several other places around the world.

The Delta strain currently accounts for over 80 per cent of all coronavirus infections in the US.

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