While taking the COVID-19 vaccine is currently optional for service members, that may change if President Biden makes inoculation mandatory or the vaccine is issued full licensure by the Food and Drug Administration, Army Times reports.

In the meantime, the department is instead encouraging its troops to voluntarily take the vaccine.

“If you get vaccinated, you’re doing it to protect someone else who might be at risk,” said Dr. Steven Cersovsky, deputy director of the Army Public Health Center in a town hall event. “As long as you remain unvaccinated, you can become infected and pass it along to other people. You’re part of that transmission chain.”

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were given emergency use authorization for their vaccines but have yet to have full FDA approval of the medicine. Nonetheless, Cersovsky said expects the FDA will approve the vaccines, but the timeline is unclear.

“These vaccines are so good that, even with some diminished ability of those vaccines to respond to certain variants, there is still sufficient immunity from them to protect us,” said Cersovsky . “The other important thing is that the more people who get vaccinated as quickly as possible, the level of virus transmission decreases, which gives it less opportunity to continue to mutate.”

Photo By Jason W. Edwards