(CNN) – Nearly 40% of U.S. Marines oppose COVID-19 vaccinations. This is based on data provided by the service to CNN on Friday. This is the first branch to announce service-wide acceptance and rejection figures.
As of Thursday, approximately 75,500 Marines had received vaccines, including fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated service men and women. Approximately 48,000 Marines have chosen not to receive vaccines, which translates into a declination rate of 38.9%.
CNN asked the other services for acceptance and rejection rates.
The corresponding vaccination acceptance rate among Marines – 61.1% – is not far from the military estimate of two-thirds, or about 66%.
Another 102,000 Marines have not yet been offered the vaccines. The total number of Marines includes active, reserve, and individual mobilization augmentee Marines.
The declination rate at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, one of the Marine Corps’ most famous bases, was far higher, at 57%, according to other data made available to CNN. Out of 26,400 Marines offered vaccinations, 15,100 chose not to receive them. That number includes both the II Marine Expeditionary Force and the Marine Corps Installation East – Camp Lejeune. Another 11,500 active Marines are expected to offer the vaccines.
“We know full well that the widespread adoption of the COVID-19 vaccine provides us with the best means to defeat the pandemic. The key to fighting the pandemic is building vaccination confidence, “Marine Corps spokeswoman Col. Kelly Frushour told CNN in a statement.
Frushour said there are a number of possible reasons a Marine might choose not to get a vaccine, including allowing others to get it first, wait for it to become mandatory, get it through other channels, or be allergic to the vaccine are.
“Service members who one day decline can change their minds and get vaccinated when the opportunity presents itself,” she said.
CNN reported last month that the vaccination rejection rate among service members could be close to 50%, a number significantly higher than the 33% that defense officials have publicly used.
The military cannot currently make the vaccines mandatory as they only have emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration. This means that service members who are required to receive a range of other vaccinations will have the option to decline shots to protect against COVID-19.
Officials say most of the vaccine hesitation is due to concerns about the speed at which vaccines were being developed and concerns about long-term effects.
The Department of Defense has approximately 2.2 million service members operating worldwide. For every 10 percentage point decrease in the acceptance rate, that’s 220,000 people who choose not to receive vaccines. This number may be large enough to affect operational readiness. Last year, the military saw a handful of high-profile Covid outbreaks, including one on board an aircraft carrier stationed in the Pacific.
Last month, a group of Democratic lawmakers urged President Joe Biden to enact a “informed consent waiver” to make vaccination against Covid-19 compulsory for all members of the US military, and wrote in a letter that “Disinformation and vaccination skepticism” are influencing the service members to refuse the vaccination.
The-CNN-Wire ™ and © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved.