Where do we go from here?
While the military has aggressively engaged in an information campaign about the efficacy and safety of the COVID vaccines, misinformation continues to spread online. Far-right extremists, as well as Russian Twitter trolls, have helped fuel anti-vaccination information on social media. The U.S. government should double-down on efforts to counter this.
The DoD recently announced that it will be ready to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone by May 1— so more information about the overall military vaccination rate should be available shortly. While Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has not indicated that he will request a waiver of the informed consent provision, this remains a valid option. He has also squarely addressed vaccine hesitancy. As the above three questions highlight, mandatory vaccination may not ultimately be pursued for a variety of reasons, and hopefully it won’t be needed. But a mandatory vaccination program would likely be upheld in military and federal courts if President [Joseph R.] Biden determines that it is in the interests of national security.