10:09 GMT26 February 2021
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    Two vaccines, developed by Pfizer and Moderna, are being distributed in the US. Both vaccines use messenger RNA, or mRNA, which is the set of instructions used by cells to make proteins. mRNA vaccines are a relatively new type of treatment that work by providing instructions to healthy cells to generate antibodies for a certain virus or bacterium.

    During a House hearing on the Armed Forces’ response to COVID-19, Maj. Gen Jeff Taliaferro, Vice Director for Operations, revealed that a third of service members have declined to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

    “I think our initial look — and this is of course very early data — is acceptance rates are somewhere in the two-thirds territory, and of course it varies by different groups,” Taliaferro said, The Hill reported.

    Taliaferro also noted service members who were not vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine were deployable, noting that the “services and commands” that were established over the past year have allowed the Armed Forces to operate in a “COVID environment.”

    During the same hearing, Maj. Gen. Steven Nordhaus also stated that COVID-19 vaccinations were voluntary for military members. 

    Army Maj. César Santiago in late January made a similar statement, noting that “the number on declinations is not available at this time as this gets into the fact that taking the vaccine is on a volunteer basis and we adhere to the intent of the guidance that’s been put under the emergency use authorization,” Task and Purpose reported.

    In January, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requested the Department of Defense’s (DoD) aid in distributing COVID-19 vaccines at FEMA sites. 

    However, the DoD has not provided any public information on how many service members have been vaccinated. Earlier this month, the Military Times revealed that the DoD has made it a policy not to report details on who had taken the vaccine. 

    The DoD does publicly publish information on the number of COVID-19 infections. The latest tally shows that there are more than 152,000 military cases of COVID-19.


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