WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III announced that he will seek a waiver making COVID-19 vaccinations required for all service members, effective mid-September, or upon licensure by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 
“As the pandemic continues to ravage our communities, and with the rising threat of the delta variant, it is imperative that our service members are protected from this deadly, invisible threat. The science is clear: vaccination is the only way to beat this virus. As such, Secretary Austin’s decision to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for our entire force is going to save lives and safeguard our military readiness.
“Some may try and criticize the Secretary’s decision, using anti-vax arguments that are not supported by facts or science to politicize the conversation. These desperate attention seekers must be ignored. The health and safety of our troops, and our national security, is what truly matters, and mandatory vaccination is the proven solution to provide protection from the COVID-19 virus and delta variant. I’m proud of the Biden-Harris Administration for tuning out the critics and focusing on science to provide for the health and wellbeing of our service members and their families, who are the backbone of our national security.”