American Military Declining Vaccine Against a Disease with 99.7% Survival Rate, Surprising?

Why are military members reluctant to get the coronavirus vaccine?

I was in the United States Navy for over 31 years and retired more than 20 years ago. I got an invitation to go to Vietnam at the beginning of my career and spent four-plus years on active duty. After Vietnam, the ‘Peace Dividend’ of that generation forced significant reductions in the workforce.

I joined the Navy Reserves and continued flying for another dozen years, usually three weekends a month. After twenty years in the Reserves, the Berlin Wall fell, and another series of forced reductions occurred. I was fortunate to be able to return to active duty because the staffing cuts were so deep. I spent most of my last six-plus years on active duty in senior staff positions and got another invitation, this time to Bosnia.

My last position was Deputy Director of Reserve Affairs for United States European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, where my responsibility was oversight of over 5,000 Reservists in all services in 89 countries in Europe and Africa. One problem we addressed successfully was members deploying overseas getting the same inoculation twice. They had their shots at one location and were required to get them again at their final destination before leaving America. All my official travels required current vaccinations and other shots. Officially and unofficially, I have traveled to 61 countries.

With less than a couple of years to retire, I offered my arm to needles for the Anthrax series, Japanese encephalitis, and more. It was mandatory to have the required inoculations to travel to specific places in the world. Why is it surprising that most military members decline the coronavirus vaccine when it is offered? The COVID-19 vaccines are issued under an Emergency Use Authorization. These vaccinations are voluntary under those conditions, not mandatory. As soon as the Emergency Use Authorization is lifted, the military will make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory. Until then, the vaccine is optional for military members.

I belong to several networking groups. On the military side, almost every one of them has had the first shot. This group is retired and in a higher risk category. Some have challenging health issues. They decided to find vaccination centers and get their names on the list as quickly as possible.

This is not the same thing as people half their age. Out of 1,000 people in their demographic, 950 will be quarantined at home for two weeks with light to moderate symptoms. Another 50 people out of that thousand will be hospitalized with severe to critical health issues. Maybe three out of that thousand might not make it home alive. We are not given the details of the under-50 generation, not surviving COVID-19. Is it possible there were some challenging health issues before becoming infected with coronavirus?

Regardless, twenty percent of Americans do not want the COVID-19 vaccine. Over one-third have opted out at this time. Some military groups have similar statistics. However, when deployments are imminent, the percentage of military members being vaccinated increases above 80%. Herd immunity ( is achieved with coronavirus above 60-70% based on the infectious rates analyzed by the CDC.

Possible Biological Weapon I have researched articles indicating that COVID-19 acts like a biological weapon. It does not kill but requires more people to be taken from the battlefield, lessens overall strength and ability to conduct operations, and taxes the medical facilities and supporting organizations.

COVID-19 may not be a biological weapon, but it acts as it could be. Whether a military member is on a base with 5,000 other soldiers or an aircraft carrier with 5,000 other sailors, the risk of infecting 20% of the people is significant, even for a couple of months. Fighting strengths and capability are curtailed until herd immunity is achieved for their units and personnel.

Reasons Not to Get Vaccine I believe that up to forty percent of Americans do not want to be vaccinated with the mRNA vaccines because of the new technology and the trials were done too quickly. Yes, the vaccine companies demonstrated 95% effectiveness against coronavirus, but there is a disconnect between what was not tested during the trials. That unknown is enough to make people skeptical.

Yes, the vaccines appear to be safe, but! Is it as safe as having a 99+ percent survival rate if you do become infected? Ninety-five percent vaccine effectiveness to not catch the virus versus ninety-nine percent chance of survival anyway? It is hard to argue those numbers.

What about infecting others? That possibility always exists. I believe that nearly all those currently infected were infected by someone with no symptoms. This assumption excludes first-line responders and the medical professionals treating the sick. The equation is more heavily balanced in favor of the vaccine, but it is hard to argue that the survival rate is nearly the same as seasonal influenza.

The United States is vaccinating around twenty to thirty million citizens monthly, with the roll-out going to the first responders and medical personal first. New vaccine sources are coming on-line within weeks. I agree with these priorities. However, I disagree with vaccinations for the older generations next.

If the goal is herd immunity as quickly as possible, then the workers, not the retirees, need the vaccines first. Most older people with challenging health issues are being protected now and have survived a year of the pandemic with standard precautions. Another six months of vaccines going to the masses interacting daily with others means a faster achievement of herd immunity than leaving that group to last. My opinion!

Will a more traditional vaccine be more appealing compared to one with modified RNA? I think so. When the newer vaccines are approved, the vaccination rate could reach over 50 million people a month. When two-thirds of Americans are vaccinated, the early signs of infection rates should drop to pre-pandemic levels.

Military deployment status, unit size, location, age, and other factors teem up to leave some units above 50% protected with vaccinations and other companies below.

How many people do you know who have had the virus and walked away fine? My granddaughter had it (and she lives with us) and never had symptoms but could not get a negative test to go back to work for almost 30 days. My daughter has it now and is coping well at home awaiting symptoms to recede to return to work. Military members see the same things. People survive coronavirus without problems, and the scary headlines do not make sense. The younger troops will take more convincing than simple suggestions that the vaccine is good for you and your teammates.

An admiral or general stating that he or she had the shots and the side effects were negligible is not ideal for persuading younger officers and enlisted personnel that this is a good deal. Their influence goes so far. Until the vaccine is removed from the Emergency Use Authorization list and approved, it will be a bone of contention for many in the military to volunteer for the COVDI-19 vaccine.


I remember going to get my first anthrax shot. I was a month or so behind others on base. Some of the others were on their second or third by the time I got to the clinic. A couple of friends of mine told me that the first shot caused no problems. However, the second one laid them up for a day or so with swelling, soreness, muscle aches, limited mobilities, headaches, and more. My first anthrax shot went well, and the second one knocked me down for a day.

I can believe that military members are getting the COVID-19 inoculations and telling similar stories about their experiences to their peers. The first one went well, and the second vaccine got their attention.

But the issue is not the immediate effects of the vaccine against coronavirus, but the longer risks associated that might develop five or ten years from now. I see it that way. I am reserving my decision until late summer to whether I will get the COVID-19 vaccine or not at all. Let me see how others react after months of scrutiny.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –


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