Washington, DC - U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released a statement following news that Secretary Austin will seek President Biden's approval to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for service members no later than mid-September or upon licensure by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"Today, Secretary Austin announced plans to require all members of the military to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting in mid-September or upon licensure by the Food and Drug Administration, whichever comes first. I expect the secretary to keep Congress informed of his plan as this moves into execution.
"As the secretary stated, a healthy and ready force is needed to confront all the challenges we face. The Department of Defense already requires 17 vaccines to protect members of the military from infectious diseases, including: influenza, measles, mumps, smallpox, and diphtheria. Vaccines protect our men and women, many of whom live in cramped and crowded conditions, from the spread of disease while at home or deployed across the globe. Teleworking isn’t an option for the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and guardians who work every day to confront near-peer rivals and non-state terrorists.
"We have already seen COVID-19 affect our readiness downrange. Our adversaries will take any advantage they can over us. We must not allow COVID-19 to be a hindrance on our force. Secretary Austin earlier confirmed that, as of Mid-July, over 70% of active-duty troops had received at least one vaccine shot. That is encouraging news and I hope that number reaches 100% quickly.
"I also want to encourage President Biden to work with the FDA to approve the vaccine as soon as it is safe to do so."