Roughly 123,000 Marines have had access to at least one kind of COVID-19 vaccine shot. Of those, 48,000 declined to get it, according to Communication Strategy and Operations Officer Capt. Andrew Woods. Another 100,000 Marines have not been offered the vaccine yet.
Woods believes the key to addressing the issue is vaccine confidence and said the Navy and Marines were working to get service members accurate information about the safety of the vaccine.
The reasons for declining the vaccine were varied, Woods said, and include wanting to allow others to get it first, signing up for the vaccine through other channels, or waiting until the military makes the vaccine mandatory.
As higher education and certain workplaces make vaccination mandatory, the Department of Defense cannot make the vaccine mandatory for service members because the three FDA-approved vaccines only have emergency-use authorization.
However, several Democratic lawmakers have sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to issue a “waiver of informed consent” to require all U.S. military service members to get the vaccine.
The letter, according to CNN, says the Pentagon has made “admirable” efforts to give service members information about vaccine safety, but that those efforts have been “outpaced by disinformation dominating social media.”