Thousands of members of the US military service refuse the COVID-19 vaccine, while their commanders no longer know what to do to convince the troops to get vaccinated, according to CBS News..
Some units claim that only a third of the military agree with the vaccine. Military leaders seeking answers believe they have identified a potential way to persuade them: an imminent deployment of forces.
Air Force Chief of Staff Jeff Taliaferro, deputy director of operations for the General Staff, said that “some data suggest that only two-thirds of the service members who were offered the vaccine accepted.”
This is higher than the rate for the general population, which a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated at about 50%. But the significant number of forces that no longer want to be vaccinated is particularly worrying, as American troops live, work and fight closely in environments where social distancing and wearing masks are difficult.
“We are still struggling with the messages and how we influence people to opt for the vaccine,” said Brigadier General Edward Bailey. He said that in some units only 30% of the military agreed to be vaccinated, while in other units the percentages varied between 50% and 70%.
The service chiefs campaigned vigorously for the vaccine. They held meetings, wrote messages, distributed scientific data, posted videos, and even posted photos of vaccinated leaders.
The Pentagon says it does not know exactly how many soldiers refuse the vaccine.
Individual military service officials argue that rejection rates vary widely, depending on age, unit, location, service membership. The Food and Drug Administration has allowed the emergency use of the vaccine, which is currently voluntary.
“We still can’t make the vaccine mandatory,” Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis, commander of the Navy’s second fleet, said last week. But Pentagon officials hope that this situation will change soon. “I can tell you that we will probably make vaccination mandatory as soon as possible, just as we do with the flu vaccine,” the vice-admiral said.
A December 2020 survey by Blue Star Families, a nonprofit military advocacy organization, found that 53 percent of U.S. military families do not want to receive COVID-19 experimental vaccines.
Of the 53 percent of military families who said they would not receive the vaccine, nearly three-quarters said they did not trust the development process or the timing of the vaccine’s launch, a publication said. Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families, said: “What we have seen is that military families are expressing concern about the vaccine. We see that people do not trust the vaccine. They have strong concerns about the development process and its timetable, “the quoted source said.