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Fauci: Military personnel opting out of vaccine are 'part of the problem'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs Jim Jordan, Val Demings get in shouting match about police during hearing Overnight Health Care: All adults in US now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine | White House launches media blitz to promote vaccines MORE, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, on Thursday, told U.S. military members that those of them who decide not to get the coronavirus vaccine are inadvertently “part of the problem” of prolonging the pandemic.

While speaking in a town hall with Blue Star Families, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving military personnel and their families, Fauci told service members that they are “part of the solution to this outbreak.” 

“Because by getting infected, even though you may not know it, you may be inadvertently transmitting the infection to someone else, even though you have no symptoms,” Fauci said during the event, according to CNBC

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“In reality, like it or not, you’re propagating this outbreak,” the White House’s chief medical adviser added. “So instead of being part of the solution, you are innocently and inadvertently being part of the problem by not getting vaccinated.”

Fauci went on to say that while military members must “think of your own health,” they must also “think about your societal obligation, including people close to you personally as well as other members of families of other individuals.” 

The remarks come after the Department of Defense last month revealed that a third of service members had decided to opt out of getting the coronavirus vaccine. 

Maj. Gen Jeff Taliaferro, vice director for operations at the Pentagon, said during a House hearing on the armed forces’ response to COVID-19 that despite the refusal among some service members to get the vaccine, they were still deployable and that “services and commands” that have been set up over the past year have allowed the armed forces to operate in a “COVID environment.”

Maj. Gen. Steven Nordhaus also revealed in the hearing that vaccinations were voluntary for military members.

A week after the hearing, Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Top Pentagon nominee advances after Harris casts tie-breaker | Air Force general charged with sexual assault first to face court-martial | House passes bill to limit Saudi arms sales Overnight Defense: DC National Guard activates 250 troops ahead of Chauvin verdict | Planning update on Afghanistan withdrawal Top officers believe they have 'zero' extremists in their forces MORE released a video promoting the safety of the coronavirus vaccine and encouraging military personnel to seek out credible information on the inoculation from agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The CDC as of Thursday has recorded that more than 54 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, with about 27.8 million receiving two doses.