As members of America’s armed services resist the optional coronavirus vaccine, the commander in chief said it would be a “tough call” to decide if the vaccine should be mandatory for service members once the Food and Drug Administration fully approves the pandemic prophylactic.
During an interview on NBC’s “Today” show which aired Friday, President Joe Biden said he wasn’t sure if he’d order the service members to get the coronavirus vaccine and that he’d “leave that to the military.”
- “Today’s” Craig Melvin had asked the Biden if he would require service members to a get a shot once the FDA fully approved a vaccine. Melvin told Biden of recent statistic — reported on by CNN earlier this month — that showed that nearly 40% of U.S. Marines who’d been offered the coronavirus vaccine had turned it down.
- “I think you’re going to see more and more of them getting it,” the commander in chief told Melvin. “And I think it’s going to be a tough call as to whether or not they should be required to have to get it in the military, because you’re (in) such close proximity with other military personnel — whether you’re in a quarters where you’re all sleeping or whether you’re out in maneuvers.”
The vaccines that Americans are getting now have been approved by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization — what the FDA calls a “mechanism to facilitate the availability and use of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, during public health emergencies.”
Why the vaccine isn’t mandatory in the military
After volunteering and being medically cleared to join America’s military, service members are vaccinated against diseases which could hinder military readiness. These vaccines can include everything from polio, to anthrax and smallpox.
- Whether deployed to combat or while conducting training, service members are often kept in close quarters which facilitates the rapid spread of colds and flus between troops.
- “The (coronavirus) vaccine is currently voluntary because it has only has received an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration,” reported the Marine Times.
When given an option
One reason — Task & Purpose reported — why service members are turning down the coronavirus vaccine: because they can.
Officials at the U.S. Army’s Fort Carson, Colorado, posted a slide titled the “Top 12 Reasons Fort Carson Soldiers Opt-Out of the COVID Vaccine” to their Facebook page, according to Task & Purpose. “Reasons range from serious concerns like how it will impact a pregnancy and the safety of the vaccine itself to the not-so-serious,” Task & Purpose’s Haley Britzky reported.
The top five reason soldiers were declining the coronavirus vaccine, according to Fort Carson’s Facebook post:
- “It’s not FDA approved.”
- “It hasn’t been proved safe.”
- “What’s the point? — I still need to wear a mask.”
- “This is the first time I get to tell the Army, NO!”
- “I’m not in the high-risk population.”
Each of the 12 reasons had a counter point encouraging vaccination. So what are Fort Carson officials telling soldiers who are simply opting out of the vaccine because they can?
“Our Army exists to protect the American people. In this case, the enemy is a virus that is wreaking havoc on our way of life. Volunteering to receive the vaccine is your choice, but you have an opportunity to take action and help our nation return to normal,” according to the Facebook post.