Defense

Pentagon considering mandating vaccine booster

Pentagon leaders are holding “active discussions” on whether to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine booster, the Defense Department’s top spokesperson confirmed Friday.

“There are active discussions here in the department at the policy level about booster shots and whether or not to make those mandatory,” press secretary John Kirby told reporters. “There have been no final decisions made about that.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidance to recommend booster doses for all adults in the days after the omicron variant of the virus was reported.

The Pentagon has already mandated an initial round of vaccinations for the military, according to an Aug. 24 memo. But that requirement has been met with some pushback, most notably from Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), who has sued the department to prevent the mandate for National Guard members.

Kirby said that should there be a booster mandate, “we will clearly communicate that and be transparent about it.” He added that in the meantime, the Pentagon encourages individuals to get the booster if they can.

The booster is already being offered at military hospitals and military health care facilities should service members choose to receive it, he noted.

As of Friday, about 96.4 percent of active duty service members have received at least one dose of the vaccine with 90 percent fully vaccinated. Across the total force, including National Guard and Reserve, nearly 74 percent of military personnel have been inoculated.

A total of 79 service members have died from coronavirus and more than 257,000 have contracted the virus, according to the latest Pentagon data released Wednesday.

Tags COVID-19 booster John Kirby
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