The US Army on Tuesday announced all active soldiers must be vaccinated for the coronavirus by Dec. 15.
The development comes after the Pentagon last month said all US military members would be required to receive the COVID-19 jab following the Food and Drug Administration full approval of the Pfizer vaccine.
“This is quite literally a matter of life and death for our Soldiers, their families and the communities in which we live,” Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the U.S. Army Surgeon General, said in a statement.
“Case counts and deaths continue to be concerning as the Delta variant spreads, which makes protecting the force through mandatory vaccination a health and readiness priority for the total Army,” said Dingle.
Soldiers can request medical or religious exemptions for the vaccine, the Army said.
But soldiers without an approved exemption who refuse to get vaccinated can face punishment, including relief of duties or discharge, according to the Army.
Army Reserve and National Guard units have a later vaccination deadline of June 30.