The Department of Defense (DoD) confirmed yesterday that all military members and civilian personnel will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, or face regular testing and social distancing requirements.

The announcement came hours after President Biden issued a mandate for Federal employees and onsite contractors to get COVID-19 vaccinations and confirm their vaccination status. As part of the mandate for Federal employees and contractors, President Biden also directed the DoD to examine adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the mandatory vaccination list.

“The Department of Defense is moving quickly to meet President Biden’s commitment to defeat COVID-19, and that includes being able to ensure every member of our civilian and military workforce is protected,” said Jamal Brown, deputy Pentagon press secretary, in a statement. “In accordance with the guidance the President issued today, all military and civilian DoD personnel will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Personnel unable or unwilling to do that will be required to wear a mask, physically distance, comply with a regular testing requirement and be subject to official travel restrictions.”

Yesterday’s announcement stops short of adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of mandatory vaccinations for military personnel. However, as President Biden directed, DoD Secretary Lloyd Austin is investigating how to add it to the list.

“Secretary Austin will also begin consulting our medical professionals, as well as the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to determine how and when to make recommendations to the President with respect to adding the COVID-19 vaccines to the full list of requirements for military personnel,” Brown confirmed.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.