The Pentagon said Tuesday the department’s leaders will look into making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory once they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“Should the FDA approve it then I am certain Pentagon leadership will take a look at what our options are going forward, including the potential options of making it mandatory. But I’m not going to get too far ahead of process right now,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.
He also revealed that there have already been preliminary discussions at senior levels within the Pentagon to think about next “logical steps” if and when the vaccines are approved by the FDA.
“We are a planning organization. I don’t think that should surprise anybody that we’re trying to think about what the implications would be and how we would react to that,” he said.
Kirby emphasized that for now, the vaccines are still under emergency use authorization, and thus, still voluntary.
‘They are safe, they’re effective. And it’s really the best incentive to protect you, your families, and your teammates,” he said.
But, he said the Pentagon will continue encouraging people to get the vaccines.
Currently, almost 69 percent of the military has received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to a department briefing on June 30.
Last week, the Army Times reported that the Army has directed commands to prepare to administer mandatory COVID-19 vaccines as early as September 1, pending FDA approval. The Pentagon cannot mandate vaccines that are not FDA-approved.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) said he has been contacted by members of the U.S. military who say they will quit if the vaccines are mandated.
He has introduced a bill that would prohibit mandatory requirement for the vaccine.
I’ve been contacted by members of our voluntary military who say they will quit if the COVID vaccine is mandated.
I introduced HR 3860 to prohibit any mandatory requirement that a member of the Armed Forces receive a vaccination against COVID-19.
It now has 24 sponsors. https://t.co/lbqYESmBYy
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) July 3, 2021
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who is an Air Force reservist, tweeted to Massie that members of the military should get the vaccine out of duty to “mission and country.”
I was vaccinated against Anthrax when I served on active duty in our military. Did I want to get those shots? No. Could I have been court-martialed for disobeying that Anthrax order? Yes.
Because in the U.S. military, mission and country come first. https://t.co/u3t3yFemwt
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) July 6, 2021