The U.S. Army can’t legally mandate COVID vaccines, but restrictive policies like those at Fort Drum and Fort Bragg make it increasingly difficult for service members to refuse.

Pam Long
Children’s Health Defense

March 31, 2021

“Liberty is always dangerous but it is the safest thing we have.” — Henry Emerson Fosdick

A February 2021 AP report reveals that “vaccine hesitancy” toward the new COVID19 vaccines among the ranks of US military is higher among younger service members.

A March 17 memorandum from the commander at the U.S. Army’s Fort Drum reservation in New York lists privileges withheld from service members who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine — an experimental Emergency Use Authorization product not proven to prevent infection or transmission of the COVID virus.

The memo, “Prohibited Activities for Personnel Within the Authority of the Commander, 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum,” states:

  • Fully vaccinated service members do not have “restriction of movement” or quarantine after travel and return to post. Unvaccinated must quarantine for 10 days and can test out after seven days of quarantine. “Family members must be able to quarantine with the service member (i.e. spouse cannot go to work, children cannot go to school).”
  • Vaccinated service members only require an O-3 (captain or company commander) to approve their leave, while unvaccinated must request leave from a higher-ranking O-5 (lieutenant colonel or battalion commander) with an additional procedural step of submitting an Exception to Policy (ETP). These ETPs will be tracked at the division level for additional scrutiny, and likely will be denied.
  • Vaccinated service members may meet with or host any non-local visitor from outside the five states contiguous to New York (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont). Unvaccinated service members must obtain approval from an O-5 in their chain of command, and then enter a 10-day quarantine to meet with or reside with any non-local visitor.
  • Vaccinated service members have no limits on gatherings at a private residence. Unvaccinated have a limit of 12 guests at indoor gatherings, and 15 guests at outdoor gatherings. ETPs may be granted for larger on-post public social gatherings by an O-5 commander, but If all personnel attending the gathering are vaccinated no ETP is required.
  • Vaccinated service members can conduct outdoor physical training unmasked. Unvaccinated must wear masks during physical training. Vaccinated personnel may be authorized to conduct unmasked physical training at indoor facilities, “without unvaccinated personnel present.”
  • Face masks may be removed if all people in a room are vaccinated.

Perhaps the most shocking item in the new policy is this: Fort Drum authorized a COVID wristband for vaccinated service members.

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