“I don’t know. I’m going to leave that to the military,” Biden told NBC News’ Craig Melvin in an interview that aired Friday, in response to a question on whether he would mandate the vaccine for U.S. service members once it is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The comments from the commander in chief come as the Pentagon has sounded the alarm about service members refusing the vaccine in large numbers, with roughly one-third of troops declining to take the shot as of February, according to congressional testimony from military officials. Earlier this month, the Pentagon reported that nearly 40 percent of Marines who had been offered the vaccine turned it down.
“I’m not saying I won’t,” Biden said when asked if he would require the men and women in the U.S. armed services to get vaccinated.
“I think you’re going to see more and more of them getting it. And I think it’s going to be a tough call as to whether or not they should be required to get it in the military, because you’re in such close proximity with other military personnel,” Biden said in the interview, conducted on Thursday.
The Marine Corps said that as of April 23, approximately 93,500 Marines had received the COVID-19 vaccine while 52,900 Marines have declined a shot, or about 36 percent. An additional 92,300 Marines have yet to be offered one.