A paratrooper assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team prepares for an airborne operation May 7 at Fort Bragg, NC.
Spc. Hubert Delany III | US Army
WASHINGTON – The White House Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday that U.S. service members who are eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine but opt out are inadvertently “part of the problem” of the pandemic’s extension.
“You are part of the solution to this outbreak,” Fauci told a virtual audience during a town hall with Blue Star Families, a nonprofit that addresses issues facing military families.
“Because through an infection, although you may not know it, you may accidentally pass the infection on to someone else even though you have no symptoms,” said Fauci. “In reality, like it or not, you are spreading this outbreak. Instead of being part of the solution, you are innocent and inadvertently part of the problem by not getting vaccinated.”
“You have to think about your own health, which is really very important, but you have to think about your social responsibility, including people you are personally close to as well as other family members of other people,” said Fauci.
Last month, the Pentagon admitted that about a third of U.S. military service members refused to take the voluntary coronavirus vaccine.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt.Felicia White, a supervisor at Camp Kinser Post Office, has her arm disinfected to receive her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa on March 2, 2021 at Camp Foster.
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Zachary Larsen | US Marine Corps
When asked if the military leadership was disappointed with the revelation, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters last month that the decision to take the vaccine is ultimately up to each member of the force.
“Everyone is different and we want – what the secretary wants – the men and women in the department to make the best and most informed decisions for them and for their health and the health of their families,” said Kirby, adding to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin got the vaccine.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Northern Military Command, responsible for the Pentagon’s coronavirus efforts, has hired thousands of service members to help vaccinate communities across the country.
Last week Austin began his first official trip since rising to the top of the Pentagon to meet with military commanders overseeing the Covid-19 response effort in California.
Austin also visited a FEMA vaccination center in Los Angeles, the first to be manned by both active military teams and National Guard personnel.
Active Duty Soldiers and the Army National Guard prepare to receive a sham vaccine recipient during an exercise at California State University in Los Angeles on February 14, 2021.
US Army Capt. Daniel Parker | US Army
Austin said the Pentagon was committed to relaying factual information to the armed forces in order to build trust.
“There is a certain amount of suspicion and I think we have to work hard together to dispel rumors and provide facts to people,” Austin told reporters who travel with him. “And my experience is that when people are armed with the facts, they tend to make the right decisions.”
“My advice to everyone is, I mean, this saves lives. And it’s not just about saving our lives, it’s about saving the life of our partner, the neighbor, and in the military we live from teamwork and we have to think You also to our teammates, “he added.