Interaction with military medical officers and members of the service, as well as data from several locations and units around the country, can cause the current rejection rate to be close to 50%.
“I think the correct opt-in rate right now would be around 50-ish percent,” said a military healthcare source about the number on the military base of some 40,000 active duty soldiers. The source spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss vaccination.
A second military health source covering a different area told CNN about the same trend. Those percentages are “consistent” with what they are watching, the source told CNN.
An army official reported on Friday that Fort Bragg, one of the Army’s largest bases with about 57,000 military personnel, had an acceptance rate of less than 60%. It was below 50% in the previous month, but it is gradually increasing.
About 2.2 million service members of the Department of Defense are employed worldwide. For every 10% drop in acceptance rate, 220,000 individuals do not receive a vaccine, a number potentially affecting large potency. Last year, the military experienced high-profile outbreaks, including a man aboard an aircraft carrier stationed in the Pacific.
Vaccine approval numbers are not definitive, nor do they cover the entire military, but they do offer a window that is hard to pin down until now, suggesting vaccine approval rates are now less than two-thirds Can.
The military can no longer mandate the vaccine because it only has an emergency use authority from the Food and Drug Administration, meaning service members are required to receive a range of other vaccinations, to protect them from Kovid-19 Shots have the option to drop.
Meanwhile, the military began a massive outreach effort to educate service members about the vaccine and to inform the town hall, virtual meetings, and vaccines, including messages from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and other top military health officials Have done There is even a section of the Department of Defense website, called “Rumor Control”, dedicated to dealing with misconceptions and misinformation about the disease and vaccines.
“We have a vaccine, we have a device, we have a way we can help stop this epidemic in its tracks, but not everyone feels comfortable getting a vaccination,” Lt. Cdr said. Julia Charingle, a public health emergency officer at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia
“With the noise, all the information, all the fact sheets that are being handed over to the people, it is information overload,” Cheringle said. “If you can just sit upright, whether virtually or in a socially distressed person, having a conversation with a medical provider, you can sometimes make people feel more comfortable in their decision.”
“What we found is working CDC guidance or military testimonials instead of duct surgeons or battalions or brigade surgeons,” said Col. Joseph Beusino, a spokesman for Fort Bragg.
But different levels of vaccination presented their own challenge. According to the number shared with CNN, in a unit on a separate basis, the acceptance rate between high-priority emergency responders and health workers was about 55%, which is not far from the Pentagon’s projected two-thirds approval rate. But as the unit dropped its level, offering vaccinations to other types of personnel, acceptance rates plummeted, falling to less than 30% in the next phase to around 15%.
“As you go down in the tier, the refusal rate increases,” the first source explained. “The real refusal rate is probably more than one-third as we properly present it to everyone [on base] And once we all have to document, “the source said, noting that there were some units that had far higher acceptance rates.
The depressed vaccine acceptance rate is driven by a hesitation among young service members. Officials speaking to CNN say that young soldiers usually feel that Kovid-19 poses very little risk to them.
The lower rate is more widespread than a unit or area.
The Adjutant General of the Nebraska National Guard said that earlier this month the vaccine “had a 30% rate overall.” According to the state Adjutant General in Washington’s National Guard, the 39% opt-in rate was better.
According to a source speaking on condition of anonymity, there is a difference between the listed and official rate for accepting the vaccine. While only 30% of officers opted for the vaccine in the area covered by the source, more than 55% of enlisted service members turned it down. Enlisted service members make up more than 80% of the military.
Defense officials pushed back privately against the suggestion that the rate is two-thirds lower or lower than normal. They say that any data now available is incomplete, and there is no system in the military to distinguish between those who choose to wait on their vaccinations and those who refuse to vaccinate.
Also, the vaccine has only been offered a portion of the military, so a service-wide number is impossible to know right now.
CNN contacted the services for more information about its vaccine approval rate. The Army and Air Force stated that they do not have a number for the acceptance rate. The Navy said that they have recently started collecting such data, and it is not yet accurate or useful. The Marine Corps said “this information is not reliable” according to the guidance of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
A soldier who is protesting against not getting the vaccine told CNN, “I don’t want to see any side effects in the near future before taking it myself.”
Another soldier shared a similar concern, “My fear is of a malfunctioning or dangerous reaction to the vaccine that leaves me out of commission or messing with my body. I understand that the virus is also Can only do it. “
At a media round-table in Hawaii last month, Defense Health Agency director Lt. Gen. Ronald Place addressed the issue, citing the hesitation of young soldiers as understandable.
“For someone who is young and healthy and does not have long-term information that they want to know, this is a logical question.” “The short-term security profile is extraordinary, but no one, and I mean anyone, knows long-term security.”
As of now, with the construction of lines for various military facilities to receive the vaccine, the supply is still very low, limiting the supply. As of last week, the military had received approximately 1.5 million doses and administered more than 90% of military and civilian personnel.
At the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, appointments are quickly filled to receive available vaccine doses, with hundreds of service members arriving each day for their shots.
Officials expect the acceptance rate to increase as the vaccine increases, making service members who are hesitant to help their peers complete the vaccine program.
“I’m sure we’ll continue to hesitate to get out of there, but the more people who get it, the more people will feel comfortable with it,” said Capt. Karl Cronman, an infectious disease specialist at the Naval Medical Center. Portsmouth. “Some of them, it’s just a matter of once when they hear information from someone like me, they feel better about it. Others, once they see a coworker and nothing bad happens. , So they feel better about it. “
Austin has made coronovirus combat among its top priorities, but the vaccine’s rate of hesitation raises questions about the military’s ability to maintain a high level of readiness.
Officials say most of the vaccine hesitation stems from concerns about the speed at which the vaccine was developed and is afraid of the long-term effects.
Expert Carol Gotay had the same suspicions despite having the drug. Her orders and interactions with medical professionals brought her around to accept the vaccine, and she received a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in mid-February.
“If it’s going to lessen my anxiety and my fear of being around people that I like, then I deserve to save them,” Gotay told CNN.
But for some service members who have opted to receive the vaccine, the decision remains highly personal and fraught with conflict.
Sergeant Skerry Blackwell said with the Indiana National, “I didn’t really tell my family that I was going to get vaccinated until that day, because I knew they were going to discourage me because they had some serious concerns about it. was.” Protector. His concerns, she said, were caused by a virus from the vaccine that contained a living virus “guinea pig” and worse. In the end, he felt that the vaccine had to be vaccinated.
“To come out of this, we have to do it, and so if you think you can do as little as you can.”