Despite orders, mandates, and deadlines both looming and passed, nearly 394,000 US military troops are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
That's according to an analysis of data released by the military branches.
- Almost half of the Army National Guard is not fully vaccinated, according to the Defense Department. That's nearly 159,000 troops. Overall, 28% of the total Army*, or about 282,352, is/are not fully vaccinated. [*The total US Army numbers approximately 1.0084 million: 479,785 Active Duty; 199,000 Reserve; and 329,709 National Guard.]
- Over at the Navy, 27,219 are reported to be not fully vaccinated.
- In the Marines, 30,977 are reported to be not fully vaccinated.
- In the Air Force: about 10% remain not fully vaccinated (not counting civilians), according to the Pentagon. That's about 53,277 people.
The Air Force Reserve and National Guard face a December 2 deadline to comply. Meanwhile, the number of Airmen and Guardians recorded as officially refusing the vaccine recently increased from 800 to 972. For others, the deadline has already passed.
The Air Force reports 1,866 men and women have received exemptions for the moment, though none have been granted for religious reasons.
After obtaining and examining the figures from the Navy and Marines, Rep. Bill Posey (R-Florida) told me, “I am deeply troubled that zero religious exemptions have been provided by the Navy or Marine Corps out of thousands requested. It’s concerning to me that service members who love this nation and are willing to put their life on the line for our freedoms are being denied exemptions and kicked out of our military due to deeply held religious convictions. President Biden needs to reverse this policy.”
Defense Department officials and many in the media tend to present the military vaccination rate data in a way that sounds rosiest in terms of compliance. And it's true that the still-unvaccinated account for a minority of the total fighting force. Yet the sheer number of those who haven't obeyed could have a major impact on America's fighting force when and if they are forced out.
Some members of Congress have argued US military readiness will be harmed if the Defense Department punishes or discharges even a relatively small percentage of experienced pilots, Guardsmen, Reservists, special forces and other frontline troops who do not want to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
The military has already begun making good on threats against those who do not get vaccinated. The Army has sent down word that Covid-19 vaccine refusers will no longer get promoted or be allowed to re-enlist, even if they are Reservists or Guardsmen serving in states where the vaccine isn't required by the state.
The controversy over Covid-19 vaccination arises in part because the troops are being ordered to get vaccinated for a disease that CDC acknowledges is non-serious for most.
Alarming headlines might lead observers to believe Covid-19 poses a grave risk to our troops. For example, the Military Times wrote in September that the military's Covid death rate "jump[ed] 50-fold" and called August "the deadliest month by far."
But the scary-sounding 50-fold increase meant the reported Covid case death rate went from a very, very tiny .0004% to a still very tiny two-one-hundredths of one percent: .02%.
That means for every 10,000 troops known to be sick or test positive with Covid, two people died. The death rate is even lower if it includes those infected with Covid-19 but who never had a positive test because they had few or no symptoms.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Defense Department has attributed a total of 75 military deaths to Covid-19. That's approximately .00535%, or one-half one-thousandth of one percent.
Some months passed with no reports of Covid military casualties at all. A year a half into the pandemic, not a single US Marine had reportedly died of Covid-19. The first Marine death said to be Covid-19-related was reported three months ago, in August.
While the ideal goal is no deaths from Covid-19, the mandatory vaccine orders are also questioned by many since scientists since the evidence now shows the vaccines don't necessarily prevent infection, spread, hospitalization or death; and only last several months.
Adding to the controversy: the Covid-19 vaccines-- like all medicine-- have side effects. Some are serious. Scientists say more adverse events will be identified as time goes on. Multiple "boosters" are being recommended to try to lengthen the protection, said to wane after a number of months. Each booster confers an additional risk of side effects.
A whistleblower has raised concerns over the impact of vaccination on pilots. Dr. Theresa Long, a senior U.S. Army flight surgeon, says she saw three pilots in one morning who had become sick after the Covid-19 vaccine, and that they were unable to safely fly. But she says when she reported her concerns to her superiors, she was removed from assessing ill pilots.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says the Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective for all people recommended to get them. Some are now recommended for shot number 4 in less than a year in order to reportedly obtain some protection from severe illness and death.
CDC says the recommendation for additional boosters shows how well the vaccines work, and advises more people to get them.
- Covid-19 Natural Immunity: The Definitive Summary
- Covid-19 Vaccine: 80 of the Most Common Adverse Events
- Covid-19 Vaccine Concerns Summary
- Covid-19 Vaccine Analysis: Common Adverse Events
- Covid-19 Origins: Separating Rumor from Fact (WATCH)
- Report a Possible Vaccine Adverse Event
Below, see the latest Covid-19 vaccine compliance data provided by the Navy and Marines.