The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the healthcare system to its limit. Fortunately, scientists and experts worked overtime to get a viable Covid-19 vaccine. The federal government continues to work to make vaccines widely available.
Today, almost 50% of Americans have been fully vaccinated. The U.S military is critical to the vaccination campaign.
However, the military wasn’t initially enthusiastic about the vaccination. But vaccination among servicemembers is finally picking up. This article looks at why things are slowly changing and what still needs to be done.
Reasons for the Skepticism among Servicemembers
Everyone has witnessed the danger of Covid-19 both locally and abroad. As it stands, more than 600,000 Americans have lost their lives due to the pandemic. So why are some people still skeptical, especially in the military?
The first possible explanation is lack of trust. There have been concerns about how fast the vaccine was developed. Initially, most people were hesitant because we’re unsure of the vaccine’s safety. In fairness, these concerns are well-founded. Compelled vaccination in the military hasn’t always gone according to plan.
In 2005, about 1,200 servicemembers developed complications after receiving the vaccination against anthrax and smallpox. The vaccine was meant to protect them against biological agents but ended doing them more harm than good. Some complications were so debilitating that they ended some military careers.
The fear of the unknown might have played a part. But that is no longer a valid reason after safely vaccinating 140 million Americans. The other possible reason is that a majority of military personnel are young. These trained professionals are arguably in the best physical health. Given the ill and the old are the worst-hit, many possibly see the vaccination as unnecessary.
Pressure from the Biden Administration
The Trump administration got a lot of criticism for how they handled the Covid-19 pandemic. The new Biden administration is keen to get off to a good start.
One of his biggest campaigns promises that he would get 100 million shots in the first 100 days. Instead, the Biden administration got the job done in about half the time.
Despite delivering in such a short time, pressure still mounts for the Biden administration. Other than sensitization, there is little the government can do to drive up vaccination among the public. However, things are a little different when it comes to the military. The government can always compel servicemembers to get the jab.
Compelled vaccination is not a new thing. Even before the pandemic, servicemembers are required to annual influenza vaccination. Other vaccinations that have been compelled among military personnel in the past include smallpox and anthrax. The rationale is simple; you can’t defend your country if you are sick.
Compelled vaccination should remain an option if the numbers are to get better. As it stands, only 33% of active-duty military personnel have been vaccinated. This process should start with top military leadership, such as the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This will send a strong message down the chain of command to all service members.
The military will continue to play a crucial role in the distribution of vaccines across the nation. However, their role is more than just logistics. They set an example for the rest of the country.
If the current vaccination rates are to be maintained, the military should have 100% vaccination rates. It is the only way to convince skeptics and hopefully vaccinate everyone in the country.