A top general in the U.S. Marine Corps is arguing that the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is putting a dent in recruitment efforts.
“Where it is having an impact for sure is on recruiting, where in parts of the country there’s still myths and misbeliefs about the backstory behind it,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said of the mandate during a panel at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, according to a report from Military.com.
Berger said that the vaccine mandate is necessary to keep troops healthy, but argued the politicization of the issue early in the process of developing the vaccine led to many being skeptical of its efficacy.
“There was not accurate information out early on and it was very politicized and people make decisions and they still have those same beliefs. That’s hard to work your way past really hard to work,” Berger said.
MCCARTHY VOWS MILITARY VACCINE MANDATE WILL END OR NATIONAL DEFENSE BILL WON’T MOVE FORWARD
A United States Marine receives the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at Camp Foster on April 28, 2021, in Ginowan, Japan.
(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Despite his belief that the vaccine has been a useful tool to stop the spread of COVID-19, Berger admitted that the issue is a nonstarter for many who may be interested in enlisting in the armed forces.
“Small areas, big factor,” he said. “You talk to me in the cafeteria, and one of my first questions is, ‘Do I have to get that vaccine?’ And you go, ‘Yeah, you do.’ Ok, I’ll talk to you later. It’s that fast.”
Berger’s comments come as all branches of the military have faced a recruiting crisis, with the Army having the most difficult time filling its ranks, falling 25% short of its recruiting goals last year.
As Republicans get set to take control of the House next year, the party has made the military’s vaccine mandate a key issue. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who could be the next Speaker of the House, said the new Republican majority would not allow a new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to go through unless the mandate was lifted.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
(AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)
GOP SENATORS DEMAND VOTE ON MILITARY VACCINE MANDATE IN EXCHANGE FOR ADVANCING NDAA
“We’re working through what is the [NDAA], the national defense bill, we will secure lifting that vaccine mandate on our military. Because what we’re finding is, they’re kicking out men and women that have been serving. … That’s the first victory of having a Republican majority, and we’d like to have more of those victories, and we should start moving those now,” McCarthy said during an interview with Fox News Channel’s Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures.”
The White House has expressed openness to working with Republicans on lifting the mandate. President Biden would prefer to keep the rule in place.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“Leader McCarthy raised this with the president, and the president told him he would consider it,” White House spokesperson Olivia Dalton told Fox News Digital when asked about McCarthy’s remarks. “The Secretary of Defense has recommended retaining the mandate, and the president supports his position. Discussions about the NDAA are ongoing.”