Many service members saying no to COVID-19 vaccine

By the thousands, U.S. service members are refusing or putting off the COVID-19 vaccine as frustrated commanders scramble to knock down internet rumors and find the right pitch that will persuade troops to get the shot. (Feb. 17)

Video Transcript

ROBERT SALESSES: I show 359,000 initial doses for service members. And then fully vaccinated, that means two shots obviously, 147,000.

JEFF TALIAFERRO: We believe that, of course, the vaccine is the right thing to do. It's clearly safe for service members. And we need to continue to educate our force and help them understand the benefits and ensure there's leadership involvement in the discussion of the benefits of the vaccine.

I think our initial look-- and this is, of course, very early data-- is acceptance rates are somewhere in the 2/3 territory. And of course, it varies by different groups.

The services and the combat commands have worked very hard over the last year to make sure that we can operate in a COVID environment before vaccines were available. The addition of the vaccine should make us more capable in that environment. But we've already demonstrated over the last year that we're fully capable of operating in a COVID environment.

We don't precisely know why an individual has not received a vaccine. We think it's important that the department continues to communicate to our service members the value of the vaccine, the safety of the vaccine, with continued leadership involvement to help our service members understand that.