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Potential Military Vaccine Mandate Brings Distrust, Support

Military Vaccine
Kevin Wolf
/
AP
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said he is working expeditiously to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for military personnel and is expected to ask President Biden to waive a federal law that requires individuals be given a choice if the vaccine is not fully licensed.

A former Army lawyer says soldiers, Marines and sailors have asked him about their rights and whether they can take legal action if forced to take the shot.

A former Army lawyer says his firm has received calls from hundreds of service members since President Joe Biden asked the Pentagon to look at adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the shots troops are required to get.

Greg T. Rinckey says soldiers, Marines and sailors have asked about their rights and whether they can take legal action.

Generally, military personnel's rights are limited since vaccines are widely seen as essential for them to carry out missions, given that service members often eat, sleep and work in close quarters.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said he is working expeditiously to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for military personnel and is expected to ask Biden to waive a federal law that requires individuals be given a choice if the vaccine is not fully licensed.

But Rinckey and other experts say if Biden issues a wavier then it will be tougher for troops to challenge it.

Some soldiers say they welcome making the vaccine mandatory and have been concerned about working in close quarters with unvaccinated troops.

The distrust among some service members is not only a reflection of the broader public’s feelings about the COVID-19 vaccines, which were quickly authorized for emergency use, but stems in part from the anthrax program’s troubles.

Scores of troops refused to take that vaccine in the early 2000s. Some left the service. Others were disciplined. Some were court martialed and kicked out of the military.

Click here to read more on this story from the Associated Press.