New push to make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for military members

There is a new call to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for members of the military.

A group of lawmakers made the request in a letter to President Joe Biden.

They cited Pentagon data showing one-third of service members have refused to get the vaccine.

Right now, the Pentagon requires troops to receive the flu vaccine or obtain a medical or administrative exemption.

When members deploy to certain parts of the world, other vaccines, such as the anthrax vaccine, are required.

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Currently, the Department of Defense cannot make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for service members, since the current vaccines only have emergency authorization and have not received full FDA approval yet.

Reuters reported in December that Pfizer plans to file for full FDA approval in April.

Defense officials said while they strongly encourage members of the armed forces to get a COVID-19 vaccine, skepticism and misinformation have made it difficult to convince some troops to get the shot.

The group of lawmakers said service members not getting the vaccine is a national security concern, citing high-profile outbreaks last year, including one aboard an aircraft carrier deployed in the Pacific.

The White House has not yet responded to the letter.