The Pentagon has moved toward making vaccines mandatory for service members

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin holds a press conference on July 21, 2021, at the Pentagon.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin holds a press conference on July 21, 2021, at the Pentagon.
OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Defense is moving to make COVID-19 vaccinations required for all department employees.

"To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo to employees Monday. "I strongly encourage all DoD military and civilian personnel — as well as contractor personnel — to get vaccinated now and for military Service members to not wait for the mandate."

The Pentagon cannot take the step unilaterally because the vaccine has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The move would require a presidential waiver, and the White House today released a statement in tandem with the Pentagon memo saying President Biden strongly supports mandating the vaccine.

The news from the Pentagon follows President Joe Biden's announcement last month that federal employees and contractors will need to confirm they are vaccinated or be tested once or twice a week for the virus.

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