WASHINGTON, Aug.23 (Reuters) – The Pentagon is preparing to issue updated guidance to require all U.S. service personnel to be vaccinated after the Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) / BioNTech SE COVID-19 vaccine was approved on Monday by the Food and Drug Administration, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
Kirby said in a briefing that the completion date for the vaccine advice was still being worked out.
The FDA on Monday granted full approval for the vaccine, which obtained emergency use clearance in December, making it the first to achieve such validation as U.S. health officials struggle to convince vaccine skeptics. .
When asked if similar advice could be given for other COVID-19 vaccines, Kirby replied, “At the moment we are focusing on the Pfizer vaccine due to the FDA approval that has arrived. this morning.”
The Pentagon said this month it would seek approval from President Joe Biden by mid-September to require 1.3 million military personnel to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
After establishing COVID-19 rules for federal workers, Biden last month asked the Pentagon to review “how and when” members of the military should take the vaccine. Biden then said he strongly supported the Pentagon’s plan to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of mandatory vaccinations for the military by mid-September.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the deadline could be moved forward if the FDA approves the vaccine sooner.
The U.S. military said this month that about half of the U.S. armed forces are already fully immunized, a number that rises dramatically when counting only active-duty troops and excluding members of the National Guard and the National Guard. Reserve.
Vaccination rates are highest in the Navy, which suffered from a high-profile outbreak last year aboard an aircraft carrier. About 73% of seafarers are fully vaccinated, compared to a US national average of around 60% of adults 18 and older.
Because the U.S. military is generally younger and fitter, relatively few have died from COVID-19 – only 28 in total, according to Pentagon data.
Reporting by Idrees Ali and David Brunnstrom; edited by Jonathan Oatis
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