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Younger Military Personnel Reject Vaccine, in Warning for Commanders and the Nation

  • February 27, 2021

Staff Sgt. Jack Jay, who is stationed at an Army base at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., has heard every manner of fear, distrust and wild conspiracy theories from his peers — and has tried to gently share his own views.

“The reasons go from political, to the history of unproven research being carried out, and because of our age group and health we are not a high risk population of hospitalization,” said Sergeant Jay, 33, who has already taken his shot.

“The best I feel that I can do is respect the other person’s reasons even though I may not agree,” he said. “However, if one of my peers makes false statements as if they are true, I will challenge them to back up their argument with legitimate sources.”

The thread of politics that weaves through those discussions complicates the conversation, Sergeant Jay said, and reflects those he sees on Facebook and elsewhere outside the military.

“The Army is just a good barometer of what will most likely happen nationally, due to the thought processes of our country at this current moment,” he said.

In making decisions, “the biggest factor is do you know someone who got the vaccine,” said Jennifer Akin, a director of applied research at Blue Star Families. “There are so many narratives out there, it’s hard to know what to do. We are trying to provide people with trustworthy information from trustworthy sources.”

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