Thomas Massie claims soldiers will quit over Covid vaccine, trolls say 'quitting is desertion'

Representative sparks massive backlash after Twitter reminds him members cannot quit the military, after leaked report confirms vaccine mandate


                            Thomas Massie claims soldiers will quit over Covid vaccine, trolls say 'quitting is desertion'
US Army soldiers prepare COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate people at the Miami Dade College North Campus on March 9, 2021 in North Miami, Florida (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The US Army is reportedly gearing up to make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory, and as expected, Republicans seemed to have an issue with the news. On July 4, Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie sparked massive backlash after his tweet, claiming military members "will quit" if forced to get vaccinated.

Despite proof that vaccines work, Republicans have been strongly objecting to vaccination and firmly opposed to any efforts to make them mandatory. In April 2020, we reported that making vaccines mandatory would be "the fastest and most effective way" to end the pandemic. Yet, there is a strong backlash against the idea. Anti-vaxxers have been emboldened by celebrities like Novak Djokovic, who have publicly rallied against Covid-19 vaccination. 

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It's not just vaccine mandates, but also the idea of vaccine passports that have caused controversy in the US. Despite already being used in other nations, prominent Republicans like Donald Trump Jr have opposed passports as well, making it hard to combat the coronavirus in the US. From the public, the fear of vaccines appears to have spread to the US military as well, if you believe Massie.

U.S. Air Force Sgt. Gerald Allen receives a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Osan Air Base on December 29, 2020, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. (United States Forces Korea via Getty Images)

Vaccine mandates in the US Military

In his tweet, Massie said, "I’ve been contacted by members of our voluntary military who say they will quit if the COVID vaccine is mandated." He added, "I introduced HR 3860 to prohibit any mandatory requirement that a member of the Armed Forces receive a vaccination against COVID-19." That bill, which has been introduced in the House has 24 cosponsors including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebart, Paul Gosar, Ted Budd, and Matt Gaetz. 



 

In April 2021, President Joe Biden confirmed he would not enforce a vaccine mandate on the military, telling NBC, "I'm going to leave it to the military." A report in the Army Times confirms military leaders will move to make the shot mandatory for all service personnel, as early as September 1. The Department of the Army Headquarters sent an executive order to that effect, which was obtained by the publication.

"Commanders will continue COVID-19 vaccination operations and prepare for a directive to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for service members [on or around] 01 September 2021, pending full FDA licensure," the order said. At the moment, the Covid-19 vaccine is voluntary, since none of the US vaccines have been fully cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Right now, all the vaccines have been given the green light under the FDA's emergency use authorization (EUA).

However, even if the Covid-19 vaccine becomes mandatory, it would not be the first vaccine to be compulsory for military service. All branches of the military require personnel to be vaccinated against various diseases like yellow fever, diphtheria, mumps, polio, anthrax, smallpox, and rabies, with some shots being annual. Covid-19 would simply be an addition to existing mandates, not a new one. 

A soldier with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne waits for a series of tests and inoculations February 11, 2003 at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.  (Rusty Russell/Getty Images)

'Suck it up snowflakes' slams Twitter

Massie's tweet was met with immense backlash, almost instantly. Many users slammed those who didn't want to get vaccinated. One user replied to Massie's tweet by saying, "Tell me you don’t know how being enlisted works without telling me you don’t know how being enlisted works." Another said, "He thinks military members will go AWOL because of a rule that existed in the military LONG before COVID-19? He could've just admitted he doesn't know how the military works."



 



 

One person tweeted, "Pretty sure if you QUIT the military it's called being AWOL. You will then be court-martialed and could spend time in confinement and lose all your pay as well as face a dishonorable discharge. Suck it up snowflakes and get the Covid Vaccine." Another slammed, "I don’t think employment by the armed forces is “at will”, exactly. On the other hand, if a simple thing like having to get vaccinated inspires you to go AWOL, maybe you SHOULDN’T be in the military."



 



 

A USAF veteran tweeted, "Quit the Military? It is called AWOL & they can prepare for a court-martial. You must not be familiar with the gauntlet of vaccines we already receive, shortstack." Another user said, "actually, "quitting" would be desertion".



 



 

Currently, around 70% of the US Army has been vaccinated against Covid-19according to Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place. The Navy leads in vaccination rates, with around 77% of service personnel having got their shots. The plan to make the vaccines mandatory rests on FDA authorization, which may or may not happen by the September 1 deadline. It is unclear if the Army will change the date for the order if FDA authorization does not come through. It's also unclear if other branches too will make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory. The Pentagon confirmed to Army Times that it hasn't "put out any guidance to the services to prepare for a mandatory vaccine roll-out."

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