According to the Department of Defense, about one-third of eligible United States military members have opted to not receive the Covid-19 vaccination. About one million covid-19 vaccinations have already been given by the the department.
Maj. Gen. Jeff Taliaferro, who is the vice director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee, “The vaccine is the right thing to do, it’s clearly safe for service members.”
It is interesting to see that the percentage of military members who have opted-out of receiving the vaccine closely correlates the acceptance rate across the American people.
Why are not all military personal receiving the vaccine? The military is unable to make vaccinations mandatory because the covid-19 vaccine is only labeled for emergency use, but not complete authorization for the FDA. “There’s a real limit legally that we have to make it mandatory for our troops and our families,” Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon. “That’s why it’s a voluntary basis right now.”
The Department of Defense has stated that they do not have records on the number of vaccine refusals or the demographic breakdown associated with this. Kirby stated, “We don’t have a system in place across each of the services to specifically track data with respect to those who, for whatever reason, are declining or deferring the vaccine.”
The Department of Defense is strongly encouraging service members to receive the vaccine or reach out if they have any questions. They have also made vaccine information readily available on their website with additional resources. Their main goal is to education and inform military personal on the benefits that this vaccine could provide.