Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States' top infectious disease expert, says U.S. military personnel who elect not to get the coronavirus vaccine are "part of the problem" in prolonging the pandemic.
"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 Thursday during a town hall with Blue Star Families, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving military personnel and their families, according to CNBC.
"In reality, like it or not, you’re propagating this outbreak," also said a White House adviser on the virus and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "So instead of being part of the solution, you are innocently and inadvertently being part of the problem by not getting vaccinated."
Fauci said that while military members must make decisions in regard to their own health, they also need to "think about your societal obligation, including people close to you personally as well as other members of families of other individuals."
His comments follow the Defense Department acknowledging last month that one-third of military members opted out of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Maj. Gen. Jeff Taliaferro, vice director for operations at the Pentagon, said in a recent Capitol Hill hearing that the decision of some service members to opt out of getting the vaccine will not impact whether they are deployed. He also said "services and commands," which have been set up for the past year, allow the military to operate in a "COVID environment."
A week after the hearing, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released a video showing how safe the vaccine was and encouraged military members to research credible information regarding the vaccine from agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.