President Biden said that he is unsure of whether or not he will require all members of the U.S. military to receive COVID-19 vaccinations once it has been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“I don’t know. I’m going to leave that to the military,” Biden said on Friday. “I’m not saying I won’t. I think you’re going to see more and more of them getting it. And I think it’s going to be a tough call as to whether or not they should be required to have to get it in the military because you’re in such close proximity with other military personnel.”
Currently, over 780,000 U.S. service members have either been fully vaccinated or are in the process of getting vaccinated.
Last month, the Department of Defense press secretary, John Kirby, told reporters, “Obviously we’re thinking about what happens when they become FDA-approved, that certainly would … change the character of the decision-making process about whether they could be mandatory or voluntary, but I don’t want to get ahead of that process right now.”
Defense Department statistics released in April indicated that about 36% of Marines have declined to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
Officer Captain Andrew Woods noted that this could be due to a combination of reasons.
“For example, an individual may have deferred until later to allow others to get the vaccine, they may have gotten the vaccine on their own and not through military channels, they could be unavailable for a second dose in the prescribed time period for the vaccines that require two doses, they could expect the vaccine to become mandatory and are waiting until then, or they may be allergic to one of the compounds in the vaccine,” Woods said.
Woods added that “the key to addressing this pandemic is building vaccine confidence.”