President Joe Biden says he has not ruled out the possibility of mandating a military-wide COVID-19 vaccination. When pressed if he would declare a mandate after the Food and Drug Administration gives final approval, Biden replied on “The Today Show” Friday saying, “I don’t know. I’m going to leave that to the military.”
Biden seemed taken aback when his interviewer asked, “Well, why not?”
“I’m not saying I won’t,” Biden replied, “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 — whether you’re in a quarters, where you’re all sleeping, or whether you’re out in maneuvers.”
The comments from Biden come after the Pentagon reported nearly 40 percent of Marines had declined COVID-19 vaccination.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on March 1 the military would likely wait to mandate vaccinations until they are FDA approved. The vaccines have been in use since mid-December under emergency use authorizations, known as EUA.
“I’m not going to say — obviously we’re thinking about what happens when they become FDA-approved, that certainly would made a decision — it 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,” Kirby said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Wednesday he hopes the FDA will grant full approval to COVID-19 vaccines “very soon.”
Fauci explained the process a vaccine must go through to gain approval. “When you’re getting a formal approval you have to have a certain amount of time just observing predominantly the safety — and obviously the safety looks really, really good in well over 140 million people having been vaccinated with at least a single dose.”
Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S. surgeon general during the Trump administration, wrote in an opinion piece in The Washington Post, “The individuals who got vaccinated early on were generally high risk and willing to take a vaccine authorized for emergency use. But many people who are lower risk understandably ask if the benefits justify taking a medication that has not received the full and traditional FDA stamp of approval. As vaccine manufacturers complete further studies, which will eventually lead to expanded eligibility among minors, it will help show skeptics that the authorized COVID vaccines are safe.”
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