Acting Defense Secretary for Homeland Defense and Global Security Bob Salesses laid down military COVID-19 vaccination figures during a Feb. 17 House Committee on Armed Services hearing. Of the almost 916,000 doses administered to Pentagon personnel, 359,000 have received the initial dose. Meanwhile, 147,000 have completed the vaccine's two-dose regimen.
Salesses told lawmakers during the hearing that vaccination for the DoD's civilian, military and contractor workforce will probably happen sometime in late July or August 2021.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Director for Operations Maj. Gen. Jeff Taliaferro said vaccination acceptance rates in the military amounted to two-thirds of the force's headcount. "Our initial look … [on] very early data is [that] acceptance rates are somewhere in the two-thirds territory. And of course, it varies by different groups," he told lawmakers.
National Guard Bureau Operations Head Maj. Gen. Steven Nordhaus seconded Taliaferro's estimate. He said that the National Guard had a vaccine acceptance rate of "two-thirds to 70 percent," which mirrored that of the military.
Taliaferro commented that military officials want personnel to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and said they would bolster efforts to encourage vaccination. He told legislators: "We believe that … the vaccine is the right thing to do. It's clearly safe for service members, [and] we need to continue to educate our force and help them understand the benefits."
The U.S. military is administering the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, which were both given emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Epoch Times has reached out to the Pentagon for comment on the matter.
Also on Feb. 17, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told POLITICO and other news outlets that the DoD did not have a system in place for monitoring vaccinations among troops. Furthermore, the department did not specify how many soldiers declined the COVID-19 jab. But he debunked rumors that the Pentagon is withholding information from the general public.
"Nobody is hiding data. We don't have a system in place across the services to specifically track data with respect to those individuals who, for whatever reason, are declining," Kirby said. (Related: Incoming CDC director to use the military and medical students to increase vaccinations across the country.)
Based on the testimonies by Pentagon officials, it appears that vaccine hesitancy is rising in the armed forces. Doubts regarding the Wuhan coronavirus jabs have been around in the medical field, as anti-vaccine organization Children's Health Defense pointed out.
The anti-vaccine group referenced a survey conducted from September 2020 to October 2020 that asked more than 1,000 health care workers in metropolitan Los Angeles. The survey results showed that 66.5 percent of respondents "intend to delay vaccination" for COVID-19, preferring to review available safety information before getting the jab. Many of the health care workers cited "concerns about [the vaccines'] expedited development" for delaying their immunization.
The death of three medical professionals following their vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine bolsters medical workers' doubts regarding the vaccine. Three American health workers join the ranks of those who suffered serious reactions from the jab.
Nurse aide Janet Moore was found dead in her car after driving home from work. The Ohio medical worker's death came within 48 hours after she was vaccinated against COVID-19, which her employer required. Moore had no known comorbidities but had reported experiencing nausea and migraine. Her brother Jacob Gregory said he believes the nurse aide got the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
Radiologic technician Tom Zook passed away after getting his second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The California medical worker was excited to get the second dose, which he received. But he complained of abdominal pain and difficulty breathing two hours later. Zook was subsequently admitted to his workplace's emergency room. He was then transferred to a different hospital where he died.
Dr. Gregory Michael died after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab. The Florida obstetrician developed an autoimmune disorder after being vaccinated, later dying of a stroke even before undergoing a last-ditch procedure for his condition. Michael's wife Heidi Neckelmann said his death "was 100 percent linked to the vaccine."