The officials have reported that the deadline could be pushed up if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said:
“I will seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon” licensing by the Food and Drug Administration “whichever comes first.
I will not hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if l feel the need to do so. To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force.”
An Armed Forces member refusing to take the vaccine is subject to punishment under the U.C.M.J. The punishment for refusal to obey an order may escalate up to court martial.
Last week, President Biden indicated that he may order all military troops to get vaccinated. However, there may be legal complications tying to the Emergency Use Authorization that all of the vaccines are currently under.
Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Cesar Santiago said:
“We are offering the COVID-19 vaccine on a voluntary basis in accordance with the emergency use authorization. When formally licensed by the FDA, the DoD may require a vaccine for military personnel or personnel in specific fields, as is the case for the influenza vaccine.”
Legally, vaccines under emergency use authorization require service members to grant informed consent to receive one, which they are allowed to withhold. The law states a president may override that concern in the interests of national security.