Since the Food and Drug Administration today granted full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, it's very likely the vaccine will soon become mandatory for Defense Department personnel, the Pentagon press secretary said.
"Now that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved, the department is prepared to issue updated guidance, requiring all service members to be vaccinated. A timeline for vaccination completion will be provided in the coming days, John F. Kirby said at a press briefing.
Kirby said the health of DOD's military and civilian employees, families and communities is a top priority. "These efforts ensure the safety of our service members and promote the readiness of our force, not to mention the health and safety of the communities around the country in which we live."
The Pfizer vaccine will now be marketed as Comirnaty and is for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals age 16 and older. The vaccine continues to be available under emergency use authorization for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose to certain immunocompromised individuals, according to the FDA.
In other COVID-19 news, Kirby said medical personnel at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, are conducting COVID-19 screenings for Americans and eligible Afghan evacuees who exhibit signs or symptoms of the disease.
COVID-19 screenings also take place at the temporary safe havens and upon arrival in the United States, he said.