The Biden administration is preparing to demand that all members of the United States military be vaccinated against COVID-19 as the United States prepares to inoculate its population against a new wave of more infectious coronavirus variants and hospitalizations are skyrocketing.
Last month, President Joe Biden ordered the US Department of Defense to develop a plan to make vaccines mandatory for all troops and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was expected to announce the requirement as early as Friday.
Biden has already ordered that all federal workers be vaccinated or face frequent testing and travel restrictions. So far, the Biden administration has relied on encouraging troops to get vaccinated rather than having to get vaccinated.
“Today, around 400 people will die from the Delta variant in this county,” Biden told the White House on Friday.
“It’s a tragedy because virtually all of these deaths were preventable if people had been vaccinated,” Biden said.
According to the Pentagon, more than a million military personnel are fully immunized and more than 237,000 have received at least one injection. There are approximately two million soldiers on active duty, guard and reserve.
Austin is expected to ask the president to use executive power to override a federal law that requires the military to have a choice if the vaccine is not fully licensed.
“The military is reaching out to vulnerable populations around the world so that it can better serve the United States,” said former Air Force Staff Sergeant Tes Sabine, who works as an air technician. radiology in a New York State emergency room.
“We need to have healthy military personnel to carry out missions, and if the COVID-19 vaccine does, that’s a very positive thing,” Sabine said.
The Department of Defense is likely to face some degree of vaccine resistance among active-duty troops, according to former military attorney Greg Rinckey.
Rinckey told The Associated Press that his law firm had responded to calls from hundreds of members of the service who wanted to know if they could take legal action if they ordered to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“A lot of American soldiers contacted us saying, ‘I don’t want a vaccine that isn’t tested, I’m not sure it’s safe, and I don’t trust the government vaccine. What are my rights ?’ Rinckey said.
The distrust of some servicemen reflects the sentiments of the general American public towards COVID-19 vaccines, which were quickly cleared for emergency use, but which many Americans have refused.
US private employers have also started to impose vaccines on their employees. United Airlines Inc became Friday on first American airline to require vaccinations for all domestic workers, joining Microsoft employers to Tyson Foods which made vaccines compulsory.
The Biden administration is taking action to demand nearly all foreign visitors in the United States to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, said a White House official.
All travelers to the United States, regardless of their vaccination status, are currently required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of air travel to the country.
Daily new cases of COVID-19 have peaked in six months in the United States, with more than 100,000 infections reported nationwide as the Delta variant ravages states with lower vaccination rates.
Seven U.S. states with low vaccination rates – Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi – account for half of new cases in the United States and hospitalizations over the past week, White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters on August 5.
the rhythm of vaccinations has increased in recent weeks due to the spread of the Delta variant.