As the vaccine push increases, the Defense Department will now begin asking all military personnel whether or not they’ve been vaccinated.
For those who have not received the shot, or who are unwilling to answer, they will have to pay a price.
According to the Pentagon, unvaccinated service members will be forced to wear a mask and physically distance themselves from their peers. They will also have their travel restricted, and will be subject to frequent testing.
The Pentagon’s announcement comes shortly after President Biden made a series of moves aimed at increasing America’s vaccination rates.
Those who lie about their vaccination status could face punishment. In a July 9 message to its force, the Marine Corps said service members and civilian employees who misrepresent their status could face administrative action or punitive actions.
The government’s increased focus on encouraging vaccinations comes at a time when vaccination rates are stalling, and concerns are growing about a highly transmissible mutation of the coronavirus called the Delta variant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its online data tracker that the seven-day moving average for new COVID cases has hit 40,246 — a nearly 47% increase over the previous week’s average.
Earlier this week, following the CDC’s guidance, the Pentagon began requiring all personnel and visitors — even those who are fully vaccinated — to wear masks while indoors at military facilities located in areas with substantial or high COVID transmission rates.Military.com
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to announce a mandatory vaccine policy for all active-duty forces in the military.
The directive, which will require 1.3 million service members to get the vaccine, is already causing quite an uproar among the military community.
Since the news came out, hundreds of soldiers, Marines and sailors have reached out to former Army lawyer Greg T. Rinckey wanting to know their rights.
“A lot of U.S. troops have reached out to us saying, ‘I don’t want a vaccine that’s untested, I’m not sure it’s safe, and I don’t trust the government’s vaccine. What are my rights?’” Rinckey said.
The distrust among some service members is a reflection of the public’s feelings surrounding the vaccine. It also stems from the 1990s when the military mandated the anthrax vaccine for troops, which was not fully approved by the FDA. Droves of people refused to take the vaccine, leading to many troops leaving the service, being disciplined, or getting kicked out of the military.