Younger Military Personnel Reject Vaccine, in Warning for Commanders and the Nation

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Other troops cite the anthrax vaccine, which was believed to cause adverse effects in members of the military in the late 1990s, as evidence that the military should not be on the front lines of a new vaccine.

In many cases, the reasons for refusal include all of the above.

A 24-year-old first-class air woman in Virginia said she declined the shot even though she is an emergency medical worker, as did many in her squadron. She shared her views only on the condition of anonymity because, like most enlisted members, she is not permitted to speak to the news media without official approval.

“I would prefer not to be the one testing this vaccine,” she explained in an email She also said that because vaccine access had become a campaign theme during the 2020 race for the White House, she was more skeptical, and added that some of her colleagues had told her they would rather separate from the military than take the vaccine should it become mandatory.

The military has been offering the vaccine to older personnel, troops on the medical front lines, immediate response and contingency forces, some contractors who fall into those groups and some dependents of active-duty troops.

Hundreds of thousands of people in those categories have received shots so far.

The vaccine, unlike many other inoculations, is not required by the military at this time because it has been approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration. Once it becomes a standard, approved vaccine, the military can order troops to take the shot.

The prevalence of fear about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine has frustrated military officials.

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