Fauci Says Military Who Refuse Covid-19 Vaccine Are ‘Part Of The Problem’ After High Rate Of Service Members Refuse Jab

Published: March 5, 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’ top infectious disease official, told military families Thursday that service members who refuse to take the Covid-19 vaccine are “inadvertently being part of the problem” and urged them to trust the experts who cleared the vaccines and follow public health guidelines, as the U.S. military is one of a number of frontline professions reporting startlingly high rates of vaccine refusal, despite clear evidence that the vaccines are safe and effective. 

“You’ve got to think of your own health, which is really very important, but you got to think about your societal obligation,” Fauci said at a virtual town hall for Blue Star Families, a non-profit focused on helping military families. 

The U.S. military, which has been deployed around the country to assist with the pandemic response, has struggled with Covid-19 outbreaks, recording 163,574 cases and 24 deaths throughout the pandemic. 

Reports and vaccination rates indicate high levels of vaccine hesitancy among the military and other frontline staff, such as healthcare workers, many of whom express concern over the safety of new vaccines. 

Fauci, who has headed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for nearly four decades and serves as President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said the military is “part of the solution to this outbreak.” 

Vaccines are the “best and most important intervention we have” to stop the pandemic, he said, together with public health measures like masking and social distancing. 

“Because by getting infected, even though you may not know it, you may be inadvertently transmitting the infection to someone else, even though you have no symptoms,” Fauci said, adding: “in reality, like it or not, you’re propagating this outbreak.” 

KEY BACKGROUND 

Despite having gone through a rigorous approval process, there is widespread distrust over the safety of new Covid-19 vaccines. Partisan politics, which pervaded the vaccines’ development and the pandemic response as a whole, plays a part, and a recent survey found that one in four Republicans ‘definitely’ won’t get a vaccine. There are even reports of large numbers of healthcare and other frontline workers refusing the vaccine, with many citing concerns over safety, side-effects and the government’s handling of the vaccines’ development. Pentagon officials said that only two thirds of troops have accepted the Covid-19 vaccine. Though leaders have encouraged troops to take the shot, it is not mandatory because they do not yet have full FDA approval (the vaccines have an emergency designation). As of mid-February, Pentagon officials told lawmakers that 359,000 troops have been given initial doses and 147,000 troops fully vaccinated. Officials pushed back at claims they were hiding data on vaccination rates, with a spokesperson explaining that there is not “a system in place across the services to specifically track data with respect to those individuals who for whatever reason are declining.” 

CRUCIAL QUOTE 

First Lady Jill Biden, who spoke at an earlier event with Fauci, said it was important for military families to “feel confident in the health decisions you make for your family” and have “direct access to the experts”. Fauci, who said he is frequently asked about how safe the vaccines are given the speed at which the vaccines were developed, reminded digital audiences that the shots were cleared for emergency use “by career scientists at the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)” and “the speed is completely related to the extraordinary advances and scientific platform technology for vaccines.” 

Forbes
Fauci Says Military Who Refuse Covid-19 Vaccine Are ‘Part Of The Problem’ After High Rate Of Service Members Refuse Jab
March 5, 2021

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