According to a recent email, the Special Warfare Center located on Fort Bragg, NC, is now forcing its soldiers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. “No one is allowed to refuse the vaccine or will be subject to UCMJ according to Group,” the email read.
The first stanza to the Special Forces Creed goes:
“I am an American Special Forces soldier. A professional! I will do all that my nation requires of me. I am a volunteer, knowing well the hazards of my profession.”
This stanza from the Special Forces Creed is like many others across the Armed Forces. But to what limits are these hazards considered to be of the soldiers’ own free will? In other words, can a soldier actually refuse the vaccine?
According to AR 600-20, paragraph 5-4-C:
“When a General Court Martial Convening Authority (GCMCA) or the delegated representative determines that conditions of imminent threat exist (where the threat of naturally occurring disease or the use of biological weapons is reasonably possible), Soldiers may be involuntarily immunized. Involuntary immunization(s) will not be ordered by a commander below the GCMCA unless authority to do so has been properly delegated by the GCMCA. Before ordering involuntary immunizations, all of the steps outlined in paragraph (a) should be followed, situation permitting. In performing this duty, unit personnel will only use the amount of force necessary to assist medical personnel in administering the immunization.”
During these times of uncertainty, leaders have to determine what is best for their soldiers and the citizens of this country. With no historical data and a major lack of testing, it appears the army has decided to adopt the COVID-19 vaccination even though the FDA hasn’t approved it yet.
In a statement shared with SOFREP, the Deputy Public Affairs Officer at SWCS has dismissed the email saying that it does not represent the position of the command.
“The Command of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School has not released any guidance concerning the COVID 19 vaccine to its cadre, students or civilian workforce,” the statement reads. “Any information or direction to the force concerning the vaccine from the SWCS Commander will be the guidance put forth by the Department of Defense, which currently states the vaccine is administered on a voluntary basis.”
Nevertheless, Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan health researcher and head of FDA’s advisory panel said that, “I would predict [that] the likelihood of [the vaccine’s] approval is high.”
“We’re not at the borderline on efficacy,” he added, referring to data from the vaccine’s makers, Pfizer Inc. and Germany’s BioNTech SE, which shows that their vaccine is 95 percent effective at protecting against COVID-19. This significantly higher than the 50 percent minimum the FDA had said would be required for emergency authorization.
Are These Soldiers Receiving Pfizer’s Vaccine?
The FDA says Pfizer’s COVID vaccine is safe and effective. But trial participants warn of intense symptoms after the second shot. The FDA said data from Pfizer’s trials show that the side effects of the vaccine are common. However, “no specific safety concerns [were] identified that could preclude the issuance of an” emergency use authorization (EUA).
Trial participants in the Moderna and Pfizer studies told CNBC that they developed more significant symptoms following the second dose.
The Pfizer vaccine is one of four U.S.-backed candidates currently in Phase Three trials. Next up is one from the U.S. biotech firm Moderna. The firm has also submitted its EUA application.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have said that taking their vaccines could result in side effects similar to mild COVID-19 symptoms. Think muscle pain, chills, and a headache.
Yet, even though some trial participants reported COVID-like symptoms, it is impossible to contract the coronavirus from the vaccine because the mRNA vaccines that Pfizer and Moderna are making don’t use the live virus.
So, will the Army wait to administer the vaccine before FDA approval? Will commanders force soldiers to involuntarily receive a non-FDA approved immunization?
If the latter, this won’t be the first time the military has forced its soldiers to receive a non-FDA approved immunization.
That was the case with the anthrax vaccine which had been controversial in the past. In 2004, the U.S. military was ordered by the courts to stop the inoculation of troops with anthrax vaccine adsorbed (AVA) until the FDA approved the vaccine as safe for general use.
A congressional report from September 2002 states that 85 percent of surveyed servicemembers had had an adverse reaction after receiving at least one anthrax vaccination.
On December 19, 2005, the FDA classified AVA as “safe and effective and not misbranded,” dissolving the injunction and allowing the military to resume the mandatory inoculation of troops.
This article was updated on December 10th to include an official statement from SWCS.