Of the approximately 75,000 marines who have received vaccines (a number that includes both fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals), about 48,000 Marines have chosen not to receive vaccines, for a declination rate of 38.9%. Meanwhile, there are another 102,000 Marines that have not yet been offered the vaccines.
“We fully understand that widespread acceptance of the Covid-19 vaccine provides us with the best means to defeat the pandemic,” Marine Corps spokeswoman Col. Kelly Frushour told CNN in a statement. “The key to addressing the pandemic is building vaccine confidence.”
Frushour maintained that the grim numbers don’t necessarily predict future vaccination rates. “Service members who decline one day can change their mind and become vaccinated when next the opportunity presents itself,” she said.
The news arrives just two months after a Pentagon official reported that roughly one-third of U.S. military members had declined COVID-19 vaccines. At the time, Jeff Taliaferro, the Joint Staff’s vice director for operations, told a congressional panel that soldiers need education “to help them understand the benefits” of the shots.
According to military.com, there have been 273,503 cases of COVID-19 within the Department of Defense as of April 9.