‘V-Day’: Sept. 15 Deadline Set for Military Vaccine Mandate

August 9, 2021Dustin Jones
DOD vaccine mandate

The Pentagon announced a long-anticipated requirement for all troops to be vaccinated by mid-September. Photo by Lance Cpl. Wesley Timm.

A vaccine mandate for US military and Department of Defense employees will go into effect “mid-September,” according to a memo from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin that was obtained by Coffee or Die Magazine. The mandate could fall sooner if current vaccines gain full approval from the Food and Drug Administration beyond the emergency approvals in place now.

“By way of expectation, public reporting suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could achieve full FDA licensure early next month,” Lloyd wrote. “The intervening few weeks will be spent preparing for this transition.”

Austin’s order comes after President Joe Biden instructed the Pentagon last month to develop a full vaccine mandate after consulting with medical professionals and taking into account military readiness. Lloyd said he will seek Biden’s approval for the vaccine mandate no later than mid-September, but that timeline could change.

Memo from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin obtained by Coffee or Die instructing the Pentagon to make immediate plans to vaccinate all troops by “mid-September.”

Every branch of the military has at least half of its forces at least partially vaccinated, according to numbers calculated by Coffee or Die Magazine, using DOD vaccination and workforce data. As of Monday, the US Navy is leading the charge with 75% of its forces partially or fully vaccinated. The Army is bringing up the rear with just over 54%. The Marine Corps sits at 57%, while the US Air Force and Space Force (whose numbers are combined in Pentagon data) has reached 60%.

USAF Chief Master Sgt. Janee Walker, 39th Security Forces Squadron, holds on to a COVID-19 vaccination card at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey.

The Pentagon has weathered the coronavirus pandemic better than most. To date, the DOD has reported just shy of 319,000 cases and only 385 deaths. That said, Lloyd will not be taking any chances with America’s fighting force. DOD personnel will continue to follow protective measures, as well as restrictions for unvaccinated individuals, as directed by the president.

“We will also be keeping a close eye on infection rates — which are on the rise now due to the Delta variant — and the impact these rates might have on our readiness,” Lloyd writes in the memo. “I will not hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if I feel the need to do so.”

Read Next: Study: A Cup of Coffee a Day May Keep COVID-19 at Bay

Dustin Jones
Dustin Jones

Dustin Jones is a former senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine covering military and intelligence news. Jones served four years in the Marine Corps with tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He studied journalism at the University of Colorado and Columbia University. He has worked as a reporter in Southwest Montana and at NPR. A New Hampshire native, Dustin currently resides in Southern California.

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