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The U.S. Army said Tuesday soldiers who refuse to get the COVID vaccine could be suspended or possibly discharged, the Associated Press reports.
The Army began implementing the vaccine mandate in late August after the FDA approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin put out the order. Now they expect active-duty units to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15.
“While soldiers who refuse the vaccine will first be counseled by their chain of command and medical providers, continued failure to comply could result in administrative or non-judicial punishment – to include relief of duties or discharge,” the Army said in a statement.
“This is quite literally a matter of life and death for our soldiers, their families and the communities in which we live,” U.S. Army Surgeon General Raymond Scott Dingle said, citing concern over the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.