The Washington Post – Hundreds of thousands of US service members remain unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated against the coronavirus as the Pentagon’s first compliance deadlines near.
Lopsided rates across the individual services and a spike in deaths among military reservists illustrate how political division over the shots has seeped into a nonpartisan force with unambiguous orders.
Overall, the military’s vaccination rate has climbed since August, when Defense Department leaders, acting on a directive from President Biden, informed the nation’s 2.1 million troops that immunization would become mandatory, exemptions would be rare and those who refuse would be punished.
Yet troops’ response has been scattershot, according to data assessed by the Washington Post.
For instance, 90 percent of the active-duty Navy is fully vaccinated, whereas just 72 percent of the Marine Corps is, the data show, even though both services share a Nov. 28 deadline.
“In September, more military personnel died of coronavirus infections than in all of 2020. None of those who died was fully vaccinated.”
In the Air Force, more than 60,000 personnel have just three weeks to meet the Defense Department’s most ambitious deadline.
Deaths attributed to COVID-19 have soared in parts of the force as some services struggle to inoculate their troops.
Military officials explain the variance in vaccination rates, in part, by pointing to the staggered deadlines each of the services set for personnel to comply while expressing optimism that, as those dates approach, numbers will quickly rise and a vast majority of troops will carry out their orders.
Thousands of troops already have begun their two-shot regimens, like in the Navy, where 98 percent of active-duty sailors have received at least one dose, officials said.
But other services are not on such a steady path, and critics say the large gaps between vaccination deadlines jeopardize how ready the military can be in a moment of crisis … READ MORE.