The U.S. Army says all active-duty soldiers will have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Dec. 15.
“This is quite literally a matter of life and death for our soldiers, their families and the communities in which we live,” Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the Army’s surgeon general, said in a statement, NBC News reported Tuesday. “Case counts and deaths continue to be concerning as the delta variant spreads, which makes protecting the force through mandatory vaccination a health and readiness priority for the total Army.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III last month mandated service members to get one of the vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, in early August, President Biden voiced support for members of the military being inoculated.
Reserve and national guard units are expected to be fully vaccinated by June 22, NBC News reported. There are 485,000 active-duty Army members, 189,500 reserves and 336,000 in the National Guard.
In a statement, Army officials said soldiers who refuse to be immunized will be counseled by their superiors as a start. If soldiers don’t comply with the mandate and aren’t granted a religious or medical exemption, they could face discipline or discharge, NBC News reported.