February 17, 2021
About one-third of service members offered either of the COVID-19 vaccines in the United States are turning down the shots, according to an official working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
During a Wednesday hearing, witnesses repeatedly told members of the House Armed Services Committee that as long as the COVID-19 vaccines remained approved for “emergency use,” service members cannot be compelled to receive the shots.
Although more than 900,000 dosages have been administered in the Pentagon, ranking member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said, “I’m not sure we can wait two years” for full Food and Drug Administration approval of the vaccines.
About 147,000 service members have received both shots.
The main reason for immediate concern, in his estimation, were the emergence of COVID-19 variants that are affecting different age groups and in new ways. Other panel members later in the hearing echoed his concern, including the possibility of having to receive additional shots to be protected, as another reason to push vaccination in the ranks.