WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Pentagon on Wednesday ordered all active-duty service members to be vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine days after the Food and Drug Administration granted it full approval.
In a memo seen by Reuters, the Pentagon ordered the military to start the process immediately but did not put a specific timeline on when it should be completed.
Earlier in the week it had said that such a move would be coming.
The U.S. military has said that around half the U.S. armed forces are already fully vaccinated, a number that climbs significantly when counting only active-duty troops and excluding National Guard and Reserve members.
Vaccination rates are highest in the Navy, which suffered from a high-profile outbreak last year aboard an aircraft carrier.
Because U.S. service members are generally younger and fitter, relatively few of them have died as a result of COVID-19.
The Pfizer shot became the first COVID-19 vaccine to be fully approved by the FDA.
The FDA, which gave the two-dose vaccine emergency-use authorization in December, provided its full approval for use in people age 16 and older based on updated data from the companies' clinical trial and manufacturing review.
There is entrenched vaccine skepticism among some Americans, particularly conservatives. COVID-19 cases, driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, have surged in parts of the United States with lower vaccination levels.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali, Editing by Mark Porter)