Younger military personnel are passing on the choice to take the COVID-19 vaccine, serving as a warning to commanders and the U.S., The New York Times reported Saturday.
"The Army tells me what, how and when to do almost everything," Sgt. Tracey Carroll, 24, told the Times. "They finally asked me to do something, and I actually have a choice, so I said no."
Data shows about one-third of troops are declining to be vaccinated, military officials recently told Congress, suggesting the goals of having a widely vaccinated American population or herd immunity to be a likely unachievable goal.
"At the end of the day, our military is our society," Dr. Michael S. Weiner told the Times. "They have the same social media, the same families, the same issues that society at large has.
"I don't think anyone likes being told what to do. There is a line in the American DNA that says, 'Just tell me what to do so I know what to push back on.'
"Many enlisted folks watch an admiral getting a shot and say, 'I don't see me in you at this point in my life. I appreciate you got a vaccine, but that's not me."
Fort Bragg, N.C., vaccine acceptance rates are below 50%.
"We thought we'd be in a better spot in terms of the opt-in rate," Col. Joseph Buccino told the Times.
Military officials believe the refusal rates are higher among younger members and better among officers. First, the young are being told of science that says they are less vulnerable to severe complications and, second, they might fear adverse side effects.
"There is a lot of misinformation out there," acting Assistant Defense Secretary Robert G. Salesses told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
There is also a political component, according to Staff Sgt. Jack Jay, 33.
"The reasons go from political, to the history of unproven research being carried out, and because of our age group and health we are not a high risk population of hospitalization," Sgt. Jay told the Times.
"The best I feel that I can do is respect the other person's reasons even though I may not agree; however, if one of my peers makes false statements as if they are true, I will challenge them to back up their argument with legitimate sources," he said.
"The Army is just a good barometer of what will most likely happen nationally, due to the thought processes of our country at this current moment."
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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