Lacking an effective strategy against widely spread doubt about the pandemic’s seriousness and misinformation on jabs, Pentagon’s effort to mandate Covid-19 vaccination for all 1.3 million active-duty service members faces growing resistance among troops, The Washington Post writes.
About one third of the force remains unvaccinated since Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced mandating inoculation no later than mid-September endorsed by President Biden, administration officials claiming the need to vaccinate is particularly urgent for military personnel in light of the new wave of highly transmissible delta variant’s infections globally.
Center for a New American Security’s senior fellow Katherine Kuzminski points that vaccine resistance among US troops is seen as a readiness issue at the moment having in mind current security crisis in Afghanistan, where thousands troops can be sent with little notice to help evacuate US citizens.
The DoD did not comment on its efforts to address vaccine hesitancy within the ranks, but Kuzminski underscored she has never seen a vaccine that was so politicized.
As of July, Navy had more that 70% of its personnel fully vaccinated, but vaccine rates varies widely between the service branches, with Marines being at the low end with less than 60% fully vaccinated members.
The inoculation is still voluntary until jabs get full FDA approval, but those who challenge vaccine mandate risk losing their jobs.
Yet, vaccine hesitancy in the Army isn’t as surprising considering the past instances of forced exposure to vaccines or chemical agents, dating back to radiation tests and Agent Orange in Vietnam. Most recently, a federal judge barred the DoD in 2004 from mandating an experimental anthrax vaccine some service members blame for various ailments they had developed after receiving it.