We've got new numbers rolling in on the success of military vaccination efforts. Are the patriots in our armed forces refusing to be vaccinated against this one particular deadly disease? Is it causing mass dissent in the ranks? Is our military hollowing out, what with all of the vaccine-refusers demanding that their commanding officers give them "freedom”?
Yeah, it turns out it isn't even a blip. A new AP story reports that 97% of Air Force personnel have now been vaccinated; that's mentioned a few paragraphs down from the main news of the day, which is that Air Force discharges for refusing vaccination have swelled to ... 27.
No, not 27,000. Not 2,700. Just 27. There will likely be others; AP reports 4,700 members are currently seeking religious exemptions. The vast majority of those will likely be rejected, though going through the motions might at least make a difference between honorable and dishonorable discharge. The two dozen-ish who have been canned, however, were all in their first enlistment and didn't bother to even pretend at getting an exemption, so the military didn't have to bother with pretending, either. They just got tossed.
This is a good thing. We really ought to be saying this more: This is a very good thing. The military has long had a thing for making sure everybody is following orders, due to all the guns and bombs and billion-dollar planes and whatnot, and not following a military order intended to save military lives remains one of the best ways to get yourself discharged.
Who are the people refusing to take a vaccine in a pandemic—whether on crowded military bases or at assigned locations—without valid medical reasons for their refusals?
They're people who believe internet conspiracy theories. They're people who specifically believe fascist, Trump-promoting conspiracy theories. They're people who believe in hoaxes so strongly that they're willing to endanger everyone around them rather than entertain the possibility that they're wrong.
The military shouldn't just be discharging these Americans. The military should be sending them off base by stuffing them into heavy artillery with a sabot of civilian clothing packed around them. This is among the best imaginable ways to find out who in the ranks will be taking their orders during a crisis not from commanders, but from whatever they've last seen on Facebook.
The Americans currently refusing vaccination even when it costs them their own jobs are either conspiracy theorists or people so devoted to Trump's versions of reality that they refuse to acknowledge any other, and both of those groups are people primed to side with the insurrectionists if the next insurrection gains more headway than the first. We want the conspiracy-addled to stay far, far away from the armories, thank you very much. Removing anti-vaxxers and other hoax believers will save military lives.
Our various armed forces do tend to take their own sweet time when it comes to anything even remotely administrative in nature, so it is likely that the rate of discharges for vaccine refusal will remain glacial, as each enlisted member who has bothered to request an exemption is handled individually to determine which are medical and which are non-medical and therefore bullshit. The military ought to toss the non-medical refusers with all possible speed; there is no good that will come arguing with them. We do not need conspiracy theorists in our hospitals, or in our schools, or in our government, or—God help us—flying the planes with the bombs attached.
97% of the Air Force is already vaccinated; it's very likely that most of those in the remaining 3% will be following suit as paperwork catches up with them. (It's possible some of those are people who got vaccinated but haven't provided the necessary proof, for example.) The total number of discharged personnel, when all is said and done, may not even reach four figures.
The mandates remain wildly successful. Lives are being saved, the spread of the pandemic is being restricted, and if important government posts are being stripped of those most willing to believe nonsensical hoaxes over science and logic then we should take that as a bonus. We don't need to coddle a handful of conspiracy theorists with ready access to guns; we have a whole nation stuffed with that already.