Dozens of troops may face discharge for refusing vaccinations in return for furloughs

Across the services, troops in deployed military bases are facing disciplinary action for refusing vaccinations, the Associated Press reports.

In a draft letter obtained by the AP, the secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, notified commanding officers that deployments are scheduled to end by late this summer — meaning the military is likely to see increased furloughs or benefit reductions — and will be making “a major effort” to get troops vaccinated.

The news is not a surprise. In August 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 89 percent of U.S. troops are vaccinated for the flu, but only 16 percent are fully vaccinated. Among the Army’s six combat regions, 83 percent are vaccinated against the flu, the AP reported.

Military hospitals have been known to pepper personnel with vaccines for potential infectious diseases since at least 2003, even though military policy at the time strictly prohibited the practice, according to the AP. In September, the Pentagon said it would consider revising the policy and force troops to be vaccinated as a condition of entering the service.

In the meantime, service members are being required to maintain their vaccination records.

“Discharges,” the AP writes, “could range from a letter of reprimand to a jail term of up to a year, says Ed Barone, an Army spokesman. ‘Discipline and court-martial exist to maintain and uphold the integrity of the uniform.’”

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

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