Story at a glance
- President Biden said that while he could leave mandatory vaccines within the Armed Forces up to the U.S. military, he may mandate vaccinations himself.
- He admits this is a “tough call” and thinks more service members will get the vaccine over time.
- In order for him to mandate vaccination, the FDA would have to issue a standard review.
President Biden may require U.S. military service members to receive a COVID-19 vaccination upon final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Marking his first 100 days in office, Biden sat down with NBC News for a wide-ranging interview on subjects that have been prominent during his time in office, the most notable one being the COVID-19 pandemic.
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When asked if he would mandate all U.S. military personnel to receive a full vaccination, Biden said that while he wasn’t sure and was apt to leave it to leaders in the U.S. military, he wouldn’t rule out mandating a vaccination.
“I’m not saying I won’t...I think you're going to see more and more of them getting it,” Biden explained.
“Once the FDA gives final approval for the vaccinations, not emergency use authorization, but final approval, will you order service members to get the COVID vaccine?” -@CraigMelvin asks President Biden pic.twitter.com/f9W50USvaa— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 30, 2021
This question follows reports of vaccine hesitancy among members of the armed forces, despite their broad eligibility as front line and emergency personnel.
Biden admitted that ordering mandatory vaccinations would be a “tough call,” but cited the consistent close proximity of service members as a need to build immunity among the Armed Forces.
Currently, all of the vaccines for COVID-19 approved for use in the U.S., which include Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are available under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) clause.
To achieve EUA from the FDA, a medicine, vaccine or treatment must have significant safety data from multiphase clinical trials. This is a label reserved for emergency situations.
For Biden to be able to mandate vaccinations, the currently available COVID-19 vaccines would need to secure standard FDA approval, a lengthy process that can take 10 months.
Under the agency’s priority review, however, a vaccine could be approved within six months.
Across demographics outside of the U.S. military, vaccine reticence has steadily fallen as more people are eligible to receive inoculation. Public health campaigns and increased individuals getting vaccinated are two factors that have bolstered public confidence in the available vaccines.
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