I am an active-duty Army officer with almost two decades of service.
I have refused to take the Covid-19 “vaccine” that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin mandated for all military personnel on August 24, 2021, and like thousands of others across the Department of Defense (DOD), I have submitted a request for a religious accommodation (RA) to be exempted from the shot. The Pentagon’s RA provision regarding this shot is proving to be somewhat of a circus and is receiving close attention thanks to multiple ongoing legal challenges. Due to the extreme political impetus behind the Covid vaccine push, I believe the DOD had no intent to approve any of the RA requests; in fact, I would not be surprised if instructions for blanket denials weren’t just unique to the Navy, as Liz Wheeler exposed several months ago.
However, an equally large concern is the bait-and-switch the DOD is (successfully thus far) executing regarding the non-availability of the mandated, FDA-approved shots. The FDA has approved Pfizer’s Comirnaty and Moderna’s SpikeVax, neither of which is currently available in the US, according to the CDC and the manufacturers. The FDA has repeatedly affirmed in its letters of authorization to Pfizer extending its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that the Pfizer Comirnaty and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are “legally distinct with certain differences…”. A US District Court Judge in Florida recognized the same thing in November. In his denial of the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction in John Doe #1-#14 and Jane Doe #1-#2 v. Lloyd Austin, et al., Judge Allen Winsor nevertheless wrote, “I do not discount the FDA’s conclusion that the two vaccines [Pfizer Comirnaty and Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine] are medically interchangeable. Of course, that does not mean that the two vaccines are legally indistinguishable – the FDA concedes they are not.” Additionally, the CDC’s website lists Comirnaty and Pfizer-BioNTech separately and notes that Pfizer has no plans to distribute Comirnaty in the US at this time (as of 9 February). The document indicates the same for Moderna regarding their recently approved SpikeVax shot. The actual FDA-approved shots are not currently available in the US.
The DOD is requiring service members to get vaccinated anyway, even though the FDA-approved shots aren’t available. The SECDEF issued this mandate in a memo to the force on August 24, 2021, and specified that “only products that receive full FDA-licensure” will be used to fulfill the mandate.
However, the actual shots that the military is providing are still the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, and the Jansen (J&J) vaccine, all of which remain under EUA. Thus, service members are complying and getting vaccinated with something they have been told, or are being led to believe, is FDA-approved, when in fact it is still under an EUA. And to make it worse, those who refuse to accept the EUA shot are being disciplined and involuntarily separated as if they had disobeyed the actual order (to receive the FDA-approved shot). Title 10 US Code 1107a prohibits the requirement of an EUA medical product to the armed forces without a written waiver from the President, which has not been issued.
I will become eligible to retire in just under a year. However, if my RA is denied on appeal, I am facing a mandatory involuntary separation no later than June 30, possibly a General Discharge (which will strip me of some of my veteran’s benefits), and the loss of a retirement pension. I could be kicked out of the Army at two decades of experience for disobeying an order that is impossible to obey at this point in time.