A blow that the US military does not want to take
The US military is used to getting vaccinated, but when it comes to the coronavirus vaccine, many are hesitant.
Courtney Waltbillig lives at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas with her husband who is an Army Captain in the 1-1 Cavalry. A dental hygienist, the mother of two is young, healthy and, like many military families, was initially reluctant to be vaccinated against COVID.
“I know a lot of my friends and coworkers were like, I’m not going to put that in my body, I don’t know what’s in it,” Waltbillig said in an interview with Fox News.
Democratic lawmakers led by Republican Jimmy Panetta of California, the son of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, wrote a letter demanding that President Biden order the military to vaccinate before 600,000 troops and their families start relocating this been to new bases in the United States and abroad. , potentially becoming a vector for the spread of the virus.
Some Republicans have backed down from a government mandate.
Others like Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, see it as an issue of military readiness. Troops can’t afford the downtime if they don’t get vaccinated and get sick, the same reason Waltbillig gave in and was vaccinated against COVID, after learning that mRNA research behind the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna had been in development for 10 years. And Johnson and Johnson used the same technology used in the flu vaccine.
“I don’t want to have to worry about being able to contact trace. Every time someone goes and has COVID, they have to be away for two weeks,” Waltbillig explained.
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A survey by Blue Star Families in December showed that one in three military family members do not view COVID as a threat, three in five active duty personnel do not plan to be vaccinated, and two members in three military families do not see it. trust the vaccine and are concerned about its safety.
“They were concerned that the vaccine might be rushed, they were concerned about the side effects,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Bluestar Families. “There has been a lot of misunderstanding about how quickly this vaccine had to be developed because in reality scientists have been working on it for 10 years.”
So far, the military has made the vaccine optional since the FDA has only given emergency use clearance to stop the pandemic.
A new investigation into military families conducted with COVID Collaborative, a public service campaign, is expected shortly.
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Former Navy SEAL Commander Mike Hayes received the Pfizer vaccine but says it should remain one person’s choice.
“If we get people to join, it won’t have such a positive effect on the 324 million Americans who are not in the Department of Defense,” said Hayes, author of “Never Enough, a book on the leadership”. at the end of the day, it’s about influencing, being positivity, and not forcing the problem.
Vaccine skeptics like Staff Sergeant Keara Holbrook, who served in Afghanistan and is now based in Ft Bragg, North Carolina, feared the vaccine would render her sterile. But she came and got vaccinated.
“I’ve spoken to people who have had the vaccine and are pregnant now,” Holbrook told Fox. “I’ve talked to people who have taken the vaccine, who are breastfeeding and they’ve broken down like the ingredients and how that has nothing to do with that, so I’m comfortable with that now.”
“We just need to step away from social media and think for ourselves and actually do the research,” added Holbrook.
Sgt Anthony Johnson of the 82nd Airborne was another vaccine skeptic, but decided to get the shot when his commanding officer received his.
“I asked him, ‘Sir, why do you want to volunteer to get it? And he said, ‘You know I want to do my part if I can if that can help us get back to normal. And that really struck me. . “
Sgt Johnson received the Pfizer vaccine and the only side effect, he said, was arm pain. “Immediately after I got my shot, put my top back on and walked out, I felt a little bit invincible,” Johnson said. “I think it’s only a matter of time before the military feels obligated to do their duty and put the mission first. Personally, I just saw it as another mission.
Former SEAL Team 2 commander Mike Hayes said vaccine skeptics should be like SEALs who are taught to think “about the team, your teammate and yourself.”
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“We have the opportunity to lead the nation,” says Hayes. “We have to see this virus as a threat to national security just as much as any kind of foreign nation coming to attack us on our soil.”
Fort Bragg has already seen a turnaround in vaccine reluctance since February, according to U.S. military officials – 60% of those serving there were ready to take the vaccine compared to 37% 3 months ago.