Three and a half months have passed since Austin ordered every U.S. servicemember to roll up a sleeve for The Jab or face getting booted into civilian life for doing so.
In December, the Air Force became the first branch to follow through with the promise of punishment when it announced 27 airmen had been discharged. Two days later, the Marines announced 103 troops had been discharged, and the Army and Navy have said they will move forward with discharge proceedings in early 2022.
The military’s non-compliant holdouts represent a tiny percentage in the military branches -- it was fewer than 1% in the Army in mid-December – and Austin’s own diagnosis this week shows the vaccinated and the “boosted” are still catching the virus thanks to the highly-contagious omicron variant.
Secretary Austin, who is 68, announced Jan. 2 he tested positive for the virus and is experiencing “mild” symptoms while quarantining at home.
“The vaccines work,” the Defense Secretary said in a statement, “and will remain a military medical requirement for our workforce.”
“I think it's hypocritical,” responds Bob Maginnis, a national security analyst at the Family Research Council. “I don't think the vaccine under this regime was ever anything other than about control.”
According to the Defense Department, the 1.8 million-strong U.S. armed forces has witnessed 80 troops die from the virus to date from 258,800 cases, according to a Military Times story from mid-December.
That figure means the fatality rate within the U.S. armed forces is .03%, the Times acknowledged.
Boosters part of Pentagon 'discussion'
As the new year begins and servicemembers are forced out, there is a possibility the compliant sailors, soldiers, airmen, and Marines will be required to stand in line for a “booster” shot, too.
John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, told the media in mid-December there are “active discussions” about requiring a booster.
Following that announcement, the Department of Defense recommended boosters for all servicemembers in late December after the Navy was forced to sideline the USS Milwaukee, a littoral combat ship, after 25% of the crew tested positive. The entire crew was vaccinated, the Navy said.
Austin, in his statement this week, also encouraged “eligible” people to get a booster.
If the Pentagon really views a mandatory COVID-19 shot as a “readiness issue,” as Secretary Austin has described it, the possibility of a mandatory booster is especially great since the vaccine efficacy drops dramatically at about the six-month mark.
This week, in fact, the CDC recommended Pfizer vaccine recipients get the booster five months after the second shot. That new recommendation backtracks from an earlier push for a booster after six months.
“Under Mr. Trump, we thought we were going to have a vaccine that was going to get us out of this chaotic situation,” Maginnis observes. “Well, that has proven not to be the case."
Instead, Maginnis adds, Democrats have taken advantage of the pandemic, and the public’s fears about the virus, to hold onto power.