The U.S. Army is looking to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all of its service members as soon as Sept. 1, pending full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensure, according to a document obtained by the Army Times. The directive reportedly comes in the form of an execute order from the Department of the Army Headquarters.
“Commanders will continue COVID-19 vaccination operations and prepare for a directive to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for service members [on or around] 01 September 2021, pending full FDA licensure,” the obtained execute order reportedly says. “Commands will be prepared to provide a backbrief on servicemember vaccination status and way ahead for completion once the vaccine is mandated.”
Execute orders, or EXORDS, are issued by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the direction of the secretary of defense, to implement a presidential decision to initiate specific military operations.
When pressed by the Army Times on the matter, an Army representative refused to address the issue.
“As a matter of policy we do not comment on leaked documents. The vaccine continues to be voluntary,” said Maj. Jackie Wren. “If we are directed by DoD to change our posture, we are prepared to do so.”
The purported push for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations among U.S. military personnel is not exclusive to the Army, however. According to recent comments from Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John Nowell, the U.S. Navy is also looking at requiring its members to get the jab once the FDA fully approves it.
“When it’s formally approved, which we expect pretty soon, we’ll probably go to that,” he said in response to a sailor’s question about COVID vaccinations. Nowell went on to add that the question on the issue “will be moot.”
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., took to Twitter over the weekend to blast the move, saying he’s “been contacted by members of our voluntary military who say they will quit if the COVID vaccine is mandated.”
“The military should not force members to take this vaccine,” he said, while also citing a recent study that found higher-than-expected rates of heart inflammation among U.S. service members following receipt of COVID-19 vaccines.
The military should not force members to take this vaccine… especially not those who have already developed immunity as a result of a prior SARS-CoV2 infection.https://t.co/CKLqvVHC2P
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) July 4, 2021
The Kentucky congressman introduced legislation last month that seeks to prohibit COVID-19 vaccine mandates for members of the Armed Forces. The bill, H.R. 3860, has 23 cosponsors to date.
Shawn Fleetwood is an intern at The Federalist and a student attending the University of Mary Washington.