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Survey: More US Service Members, Spouses Getting COVID Vaccinations

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More troops and their spouses plan to get vaccinated for COVID-19, according to an online survey of military families.

The number of those in the military getting inoculated are rising since December, the survey results, obtained by Fox News, shows. 

Now, 71% of troops surveyed say they have gotten the vaccine or plan to do so. The 39% of active-duty spouses who say they plan to get vaccinated could be a problem as hundreds of thousands of troops and their families change locations (bases) during the summer, said Blue Star Families, a veteran and military family non-profit, along with the COVID Collaborative, the entity conducting the survey.

The Collaborative made the following recommendations to the Pentagon:

Offering a choice: 66% of active-duty service members say a choice in the type of vaccine increases their likelihood of receiving one.

Guaranteeing time off: 22% of active-duty service members reported difficulty in obtaining an appointment that fits with their schedule.

Increasing information to military-connected spouses: 30% of active-duty spouses remain unsure if the vaccine is available to them.

“So the opportunity to let people decide between Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, that makes a difference to folks,” according to Blue Star Families’ CEO Kathy Roth-Douquet. “The second thing was making it part of their work week. A lot of military people feel their work is very essential. They are worried about losing that day if they are ill from the vaccine.”

Spouses of those service members who are deployed have their own concerns and cannot afford a down day if taking care of children alone.

In terms of the troops: “If their commander can say, ‘You’ve got the time off to both get the vaccine and to recover because I don’t want to lose you for two weeks or more if you’re sick,’ that helps,” Roth-Douquet explained.

Jenny Akin, an Army spouse and survey researcher, was hesitant because she was pregnant, but was convinced to get the shot. 

“I just got my second vaccine yesterday, actually,” said Akin. “And I came around really when the FDA came out and did provide support for pregnant women to receive the vaccine.”

The Pentagon opened vaccine eligibility to what it describes as Tier 2 recipients — most of the young, healthy force — on April 19. At that time 37% of active-duty service members had received at least one dose. By May 19, 58% of all service members had received one dose — a marked improvement, according to a senior defense official.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wants the vaccine to remain voluntary.

Nick Palmisciano, a former Army combat infantry officer who started the clothing company Ranger Up, said, “I decided to get the vaccine for a few reasons. I was never really worried about myself because of my age group and relative health, but I do know a lot of people that are immunocompromised, and I never want to be the person that gives the virus to somebody unwittingly.”

Forty percent of active-duty U.S. Marines say they do not plan to get the COVID vaccine.

Palmisciano explained the concerns of some troops.

“One of the big issues that people have right now in the military and the veteran community is there’s a general lack of trust any time the government’s involved,” Palmisciano told Fox News. “Whether you’re talking about the anthrax vaccine back in the day that caused problems or burn pits or all these things that kind of the military is used as a guinea pig.”

The former combat veteran just got his second COVID vaccine and is working hard to convince other troops and veterans about why they should do the same — for God and country.

The military has a history of being a carrier of disease.

For example, during the 1918 Pandemic, a flu virus traveled with military personnel from camp to camp across the Atlantic, and at the height of the war, September through November 1918, both influenza and resulting pneumonia sickened between 20% and 40% of U.S. Army and Navy personnel.

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