- The Department of Defense relied on a self-reported database to monitor possible negative side effects to the mandated COVID-19 vaccine, a spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
- Many military leaders and medical providers did not take allegations of adverse reactions seriously, military members said.
- “Every doc I talked to about my ‘issues’ from the [vaccine] were ignored, not taken seriously,” a military member told the DCNF on condition of anonymity.
The Department of Defense (DOD) mandated the vaccine for all servicemembers and marketed it as safe, but whistleblowers say their concerns about possible adverse responses went unheeded.
A spokesperson for the Defense Health Agency (DHA), which oversees medical services for the Army, Navy and Air Force, told the Daily Caller News Foundation DOD monitors a database where individuals can publicly report negative health events they believe may be related to the mandated COVID-19 vaccine. However, many instances were never entered into the database, while military supervisors suppressed concerns about the possible side effects of the mandated shot and ignored exemption requests, according to a whistleblower document and servicemembers familiar with the situation.
“Every doc I talked to about my ‘issues’ from the [vaccine] were ignored, not taken seriously, or I was told that my issues were due to my age,” a military member told the DCNF. (RELATED: Troops Discharged For Refusing The COVID Vaccine Are Fighting For A Second Chance. For Many, It’s Too Late)
The military members who spoke to the DCNF did so on condition of anonymity for fear of endangering their careers.
The DCNF obtained a 101-page whistleblower document provided to Congress in January 2022, detailing multiple cases of apparent vaccine injury. The document is divided into four sections, with the first containing seven first-person testimonies from injured members as well as medical documentation.
One Air Force reservist experienced at least one stroke that caused severe, career-ending eyesight dysfunction after her second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, testimony and medical documentation shows. The member said she felt compelled to get vaccinated contrary to her sincere beliefs.
Another member, an Air Force fighter pilot instructor, was diagnosed with pericarditis (heart inflammation) and anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) on Dec. 21, 2021 after rushing to the emergency room less than a day after receiving a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in October, according to testimony and medical documentation.
The member was grounded for a month and said his medical superiors refused to grant future vaccine exemptions.
“I’d had adverse reactions to the flu mist, flu shot, anthrax, and yellow fever vaccines with similar ingredients. The chief medical doc on base literally told me, ‘While you’re the perfect candidate for an exemption, we’ve been directed to deny all medical requests,'” another member told the DCNF.
“That was it. No letter given,” the member continued.
A Marine Corps aviation safety officer whose job involves reviewing incident reports said he noticed a “disturbing” increase in medical reports coinciding with the introduction of the COVID-19 virus, testimony and copies of the reports show. Incidents were not entered VAERS or monitored as vaccine reactions or injuries, the officer said.
“I have had some members tell me that the doctors they saw dismissed their symptoms,” a civilian physician for the Air Force National Guard told the DCNF. “If symptoms weren’t dismissed, they would either ignore the possibility of vax injury, or would outright tell people that there’s no way the vax caused their symptoms.”
‘Safe And Effective’
The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is an early warning system for potential health dangers a vaccine could present, according to its website. Individuals who experience a health event they believe may be related to a vaccine can voluntarily submit a report in VAERS, but the reports do not establish causality.
The CDC and FDA monitor VAERS for patterns of reactions that may suggest a need for further evaluation of a vaccine, even if it passed official trials, the website says. The Pentagon says it tracked VAERS submissions from servicemembers.
“DOD tracks Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [VAERS] submissions on DOD beneficiaries,” DHA spokesperson Peter Graves told the DCNF. “A VAERS submission does not mean that the vaccine caused [or] contributed to the medical issue of concern.”
DOD did not seek to distinguish typical short-term reactions from more serious long term effects reported by servicemembers, Graves said. “As a voluntary form, the submitter may or may not include that information,” he added.
“Initially it appeared that there was going to be a specific tracking for military members, but nope, just VAERS,” the flight doctor, who now serves as a civilian, told the DCNF.
However, some post-vaccine health scares were never entered into VAERS because military medics did not document medical incidents as possibly related to the vaccine, the doctor added.
Military medical diagnoses for active-duty members are entered into the Defense Medical Epidemiology Database, the physician said. However, it was unclear whether that data was being used to study vaccine reactions, and the DHA did not respond to follow up questions seeking further clarity.
In addition, causal links between most sudden-onset complications and each vaccine remain unclear; the CDC says it is still investigating cases.
“COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and severe reactions after vaccination are rare,” the CDC said on its vaccine webpage, adding the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks.
However, young males are at higher risk of pericarditis and myocarditis, another type of heart inflammation, typically within a week of receiving a second dose of a shot that relies on mRNA technology, the CDC found. Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use mRNA.
Patients who develop myocarditis or pericarditis typically respond to medicine and can resume normal activities, but the disease can resurface months or even years afterward, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLB).
A DOD study published in June 2021, prior to the mandate, found unusual rates of heart inflammation among previously healthy male servicemembers who received either of the mRNA vaccines. Researchers expected to find up to eight cases among fully vaccinated males, who make up roughly 80% of the total force according to a 2020 demographics report, but instead recorded 20.
“The observed number of male military members who experienced myocarditis after their second dose of mRNA vaccine, while relatively small, is substantially higher than the expected number,” the researchers wrote, cautioning that patients who contract COVID-19 are also at risk of heart injuries.
The VAERS database shows one instance of myocarditis for Pfizer-BioNTech doses administered by the military for the years 2021 and 2022. Records show that the patient died and had a previously undiscovered anomaly in his left artery, which apparently preceded his vaccination.
The CDC performed a follow up surveillance study of Americans ages 12 to 29 who filed VAERS reports indicating pericarditis between Aug 24, 2021, and Jan 12, 2022. Of the 393 patients with a health care provider assessment confirming the VAERS report, 32% had not received clearance for all forms of physical activity at least 90 days post incident.
A history of chronic or recurrent myocarditis or pericarditis can disqualify someone from military service, according to DOD instruction.
The benefits of getting the #COVID19 vaccine far outweigh the risks of contracting the virus. Particularly with increasing new strains like the #deltavariant it is important to protect yourself and #GetTheVax. https://t.co/yfS3w3jQhE pic.twitter.com/yD1mKJ4aYd
— Military Health System (@MilitaryHealth) August 21, 2021
“What happened in medicine is an absolute tragedy. The doctor-patient relationship was blatantly violated in many ways for many reasons,” the flight doctor told the DCNF.
‘We Politicized This Disease’
The FDA licensed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Aug. 23, 2021. The next day, Austin issued a service-wide mandate that all troops be fully vaccinated. DOD approved Moderna’s vaccine for use under the vaccination mandate on Jan. 31, 2022 after the FDA formally approved the product.
DOD cannot require employees to receive emergency use authorization (EUA) products, although personnel can still choose to receive an EUA vaccine independently, according to Austin’s August 2021 memo.
As of Dec. 8, DOD tallied 96 military deaths and 2,741 hospitalized out of 453,456 total recorded COVID-19 cases, while more than more than 2 million servicemembers have received complete COVID-19 vaccine doses.
DOD made thousands of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines available before Austin mandated the Pfizer version for troops, Military.com reported. An exact breakdown of how many members received vaccines sanctioned under the DOD mandate was unclear.
Many servicemembers rejected the vaccine both for medical and religious reasons despite orders from their superiors. Service branches approved only a small number of religious exemptions, and military members are currently prosecuting cases alleging the services violated religious liberty by mass denying accommodation requests.
Austin, at Congress’ direction, repealed the vaccine mandate on Jan. 10.
“The Biden DOD completely politicized its COVID response,” Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, chairman of the military personnel subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, told the DCNF. DOD “harassed” servicemembers who refused the vaccine, he added.
Republican Rep. Scott Franklin of Florida, who served 26 years as a naval aviator, told the DCNF in an interview the military made a “good faith effort” to do what appeared to be in the best interest of the total force. “But as the facts overcame the situation, I think they were kind of slow to adapt,” he added.
Republican Georgia Rep. Rich McCormick, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, suggested fewer members might have refused to get vaccinated if the Biden administration had handled the coronavirus pandemic differently.
“Because of the fact that we politicized this disease, a lot of people were very scared to get a vaccination. If we let doctors handle this, or military people handle this, it would’ve been the issue that it has become,” he said.
The Air Force and the Navy referred the DCNF to DHA. The Army did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
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