- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Take the COVID-19 shot — there’s nothing to fear. Get the coronavirus vaccination — it’s safe, it’s effective, and it’s the surefire way back to pre-pandemic normalcy. Those are the lines; these are the arguments.

But consider this. If the coronavirus vaccines were all that safe and secure, then why isn’t the military mandating it for troops? 

“We cannot make it mandatory yet,” said the U.S. Second Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, Military.com reported

That’s significant.

That’s significant because if any single body could mandate the vaccine, it’d be the military — the military, which is distinctly different than the civilian sector, the military, which plays by a different set of civil rights rules.

But the military isn’t mandating the shot just yet.

“I can tell you we’re probably going to make it mandatory as soon as we can, just like we do with the flu vaccine,” Lewis said.

The holdup is the emergency use authorization tag under which the current vaccines are being developed and administered.

“Defense Department officials have previously said that the COVID-19 vaccine would remain voluntary while it’s under emergency-use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration,” Military.com wrote. “That designation is expected to last up to two years while the FDA assesses the vaccination’s efficacy and side effects.”

Two years. 

Two years to shed the guinea pig label.

The Health and Human Services secretary and U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an “emergency-use authorization,” EUA, for COVID-19 vaccine development in early 2020, clearing the way for companies to produce, distribute and — in this particular case — conduct “in vitro diagnostic tests,” i.e., inject, “unapproved medical products or approved uses of approved medical products” in a streamline fashion.

These are the conditions under which the coronavirus vaccines are currently being administered across the United States. 


Emergency-use authorization.

Call it “test phase” in the colloquial.

Thus, the military’s reluctance to command-and-control style the shot onto troops. They tried that at least once already. It didn’t go well.

In the 1990s, the U.S. military, fearing biological warfare, began a mandated vaccine program of members against anthrax. The FDA, however, hadn’t tested or approved the vaccine for use against inhaled anthrax; the shot, rather, was administered as a high-priority program of military commanders.

Troops suffered.

According to a September 2002 report from the General Accounting Office, of the 37% “of the [National] guard and reserve pilots and aircrew members [who] had received one or more anthrax shots as of September 2000 … 85 percent reported experiencing some type of reaction (local or systemic or both). … [A]bout one-fifth of these systemic reactions lasted for more than 7 days.”

The Army Times reported that in 2004, courts ordered the military to stop administering the anthrax shot until the FDA approved its use for general use. A year or so later, the FDA did deem it “safe and effective” for use.

But for some, the damage had already been done.

Emel Bosh, a 35-year-old chemical specialist, filed a lawsuit against the government after she was forced to take the anthrax shot — three times — and subsequently, suffered seizures and other health problems that sent her to the emergency room. The suit was dismissed; but it’s interesting the government’s path toward dismissal was an invocation of the Feres doctrine which said, “even accepting the version of the facts set forth in plaintiffs’ complain, plaintiffs have failed to state a constitutional claim.”

In other words: the government didn’t exactly dispute the fact that the vaccine caused the adverse health effects.

Now fast-forward to this coronavirus vaccine.

Now fast-forward to the military’s reluctance to make the COVID-19 shot compulsory.

As Healthline wrote: “Because the COVID-19 vaccines have only been administered in the United States since December 2020, the long-term effects are unknown at this time.”

The U.S. military knows that.

American citizens should, too.

As the anthrax shot shows — it’s not as if every creation of government can automatically be trusted as safe. 

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE. Her latest book, “Socialists Don’t Sleep: Christians Must Rise Or America Will Fall,” is available by clicking HERE.

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