Approximately 75,500 Marines have received vaccinations, including those who are now fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated, according to service-wide data obtained by the network.
Almost 48,000 Marines have chosen not to receive the vaccines (38.9%). An additional 102,000 Marines have yet to be offered vaccinations, according to CNN.
The Marines are the first military branch to disclose vaccination rates. But the military as a whole has estimated that two-thirds of service members will choose to receive the vaccines, a rate of 66%, compared to the 61% acceptance rate so far for the Marines, CNN noted.
It is not clear why the vaccines have been rejected. Authorities speculate that some may be waiting for those most at risk to receive vaccines first, or are waiting for availability elsewhere, rather than through the military, according to CNN. Other concerns could be related to safety concerns regarding the speed at which vaccines were developed, or fears that scientists say are unfounded about possible long-term effects.
“We fully understand that the widespread acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine provides us with the best means to defeat the pandemic. The key to addressing the pandemic is building confidence in vaccines, “Marine Corps spokeswoman Col. Kelly Frushour told CNN in a statement.
Naval officers are reaching out to service members to encourage them to get vaccinated.
“The Navy and Marine Corps provide substantial general educational information and work with commands to ensure that Marines, Sailors, and recipients have accurate information on the safety and efficacy of vaccines to encourage people to get vaccinated. “said Navy spokesman Capt. Andrew Wood said in a statement to The Hill.
The military cannot yet make vaccines mandatory because the vaccines have only received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, and service members have the option to decline.
The Department of Defense has some 2.2 million service members operating around the world. Too low a vaccine acceptance rate could affect “forced preparation,” CNN noted.
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