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Pentagon will require COVID-19 vaccine for US military by Sept. 15

Or sooner if a vaccine gets full approval from the FDA.

Sarah Tew/CNET
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Members of the US military will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept 15. That comes from a memo Monday from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin telling troops he'll seek the president's approval to make vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or sooner if a vaccine receives full approval from the Food and Drug Administration

"I strongly encourage all DoD military and civilian personnel -- as well as contractor personnel -- to get vaccinated now and for military service members to not wait for the mandate," reads the memo from Austin.

The news was earlier reported by the Associated Press

The decision comes just over a week after President Joe Biden asked the Department of Defense to develop a plan for adding COVID-19 to the list of vaccinations troops are required to get. 

"Being vaccinated will enable our service members to stay healthy, to better protect their families, and to ensure that our force is ready to operate anywhere in the world," said Biden in a statement released by the White House on Monday. "We cannot let up in the fight against COVID-19, especially with the delta variant spreading rapidly through unvaccinated populations."

In the memo, Austin says military services will have the next few weeks to prepare for this change and determine how the mandate will be implemented. 

The Biden administration has been pushing to increase vaccinations amid a spike in COVID-19 cases across the US. The delta variant, a strain first documented in India, has become the dominant strain in the US, accounting for more than 80% of COVID cases in the country as of late July.