A source from The Pentagon has confirmed that nearly 40% of US Marines who have been offered the COVID-19 vaccination have refused it.
In an interview with USA today, Communicating Strategy and Operations Officer Captain Andrew Woods confirmed that of the 123,500 Marines who have had access to the vaccine, 75,500 Marines are either fully vaccinated or have had one dose whilst 48,000 have declined it. “We fully understand that widespread acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine provides us with the best means to defeat this pandemic. The key to addressing this pandemic is building vaccine confidence,” Woods said. Woods confirmed The Marines were working to ensure that soldiers have accurate information regarding the safety of the vaccine.
Woods went on to say that service members may have declined the offer for any one of a variety of reasons, including wanting to allow others to get the vaccine before them; having already received the vaccine through other channels; or waiting until the military makes receiving the vaccine mandatory, which it has yet to do. Based on data shared with CNN by the Marine Corps, the refusal rate at one prominent Marine base, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, was significantly higher: 57% of Marines there refused the vaccine. Of the 26,400 Marines at Camp Lejeune who have been offered the vaccine, 15,100 chose not to get it, including members from the II Marine Expeditionary Force and Marines Corps Installation East. More than 100,000 Marines have yet to be offered the vaccine, Wood said.
Because the Defense Department has only emergency-use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for the COVID-19 vaccine, the department can’t make receiving the vaccine mandatory for service members, but President Joe Biden could issue a waiver. 7 Democrat members of congress, led by California Rep. Jimmy Panetta have written to President Biden and requested that he issue “a waiver of informed consent” which will require all members of the US military to have the vaccine.
The letter acknowledges the efforts made by The Pentagon to educate military personnel on the safety of the vaccine, Panetta went on to say that those efforts have been “outpaced by disinformation dominating social media.” Panetta argued that unvaccinated soldiers pose a “critical threat to our national security and public health.” Panetta is putting pressure on President Biden to override the rules as well as the “informed consent” of the troops. “Vaccinating every eligible service member will improve readiness and have an immediate and positive impact on the communities in which they serve,” Panetta wrote in the letter, which was co-signed by six fellow Democrats.
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ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: USNI NEWS – US NAVAL INSTITUTE
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