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Legislators are torn over reports that U.S. Army personnel may soon need to get COVID-19 vaccinations.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Said on a Twitter post that he had heard from military personnel who say they intend to leave the service if they are forced to receive the vaccines.
Massie introduced a law in June banning any requirement that service members receive a COVID-19 vaccination. The bill currently has 23 co-sponsors, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., And Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Responded to Massie’s tweet, accusing him of “suppleness”, noting that service members would have to receive many other vaccinations in order to serve.
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Former MP Denver Riggleman, R-Va. Added that illness and death negatively impact military readiness.
Both Riggleman and Kinzinger have experience in US military service.
The Army Times reported last week that the service had directed orders to prepare for mandatory vaccines as early as September.
“Commanders will continue the COVID-19 vaccination operations and prepare for a policy that will require COVID-19 vaccination for service members [on or around] September 2021, pending full approval by the FDA, “says the order, as the sales outlet reports.
A Department of Defense spokesman declined to address the question of whether the vaccine could be made mandatory and instead said the vaccine would remain optional under its emergency approval status.
“Shots are voluntary because of emergency approval – the DoD fully adheres to the US federal code that requires a vaccine to be offered on a voluntary basis as long as it is available under an EUA from the FDA,” the spokesman said in an explanation. “We focus on making vaccines and information about them available at all levels – from the secretariat to the health facilities in the local facilities.”
Pfizer and Moderna have requested full approval that could allow the military to make the shooting mandatory.
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A survey of nearly 2,500 military-related families conducted by Blue Star Families and the COVID Collaborative, published in May, found that the majority of respondents had been vaccinated or planned to be vaccinated. Of those who hadn’t been vaccinated and hadn’t made an appointment, 50% said they didn’t plan on getting the vaccine.
A recent study also showed a higher prevalence of heart inflammation – a condition known as myocarditis – among U.S. military personnel than previously expected. While the cases remained rare, the study found 19 cases among 436,000 second doses given to male military personnel. The researchers expected to find eight cases.