Those within the military are being told that they’re going to be among the first to get the vaccine. Woohoo! What a great way to honor those who are serving the country. Or is it?
Many in the military are exposed to quite a bit as they do their day-to-day activities. In some instances, there’s toxic chemical exposure. Even drinking water on some of the bases has been known to have toxic chemicals in them – water fountains as well as the water leading into base housing.
Toxic exposure leads to a number of health concerns due to a weakened immune system. As if military veterans didn’t have enough to worry about already. Okay, so that means anyone exposed should get the vaccine even sooner, right?
Not so fast. Before we go lining up everyone across every military base, there are some issues.
There are a few things that need to be said. First, those in the military exposed to toxic chemicals, along with their dependents, may be at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19. Second, it may also impact those who want to get the vaccine.
Military members may find themselves in a conundrum. They’re at greater risk and they can’t protect themselves.
The problem is that there are a number of pre-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in the foam used by the military to fight fires. It builds up in the body and stays there, leaving firefighters in the military particularly vulnerable.
Not everyone responds to PFAS in the same way. Some will have suppressed immune systems while others will have overactive ones. The chemical exposure, whether it’s from direct contact or even drinking it from a water fountain on base, has led to such things as diabetes, cancer, and thyroid disruption.
Now that there are so many who are at risk of getting sicker from COVID, it really highlights the need for the vaccine. What’s inside the vaccine, though, may make it harder to get the vaccine. How will the vaccine respond when there’s a significant amount of PFAS exposure? Well, this is what many in the military community are worried about.
One study that took place in 2017 identified that exposure to PFAS in infants led to a decreased response to the vaccines that they received.
This means that there is a very good possibility that those within the military and veteran community could get the vaccine without it having any real effect. The efficacy could drop well below the promised 95%, which means that everyone is just as vulnerable as they were before receiving the shot.
What is the plan? There isn’t one at this point in time. The goal is for everyone to still get vaccinated. At that point, it will be a ‘wait and see’ kind of situation. It’s certainly not ideal, but it’s also what happens when a vaccine is rushed through as quickly as this one – it doesn’t get tested in all of the smaller groups.
It’s likely going to be an issue for the new Secretary of Veteran Affairs. You know, the one who has never served in the military. Denis McDonough may not even know about the toxicity found in the water across many military bases – or the other ways in which military members get exposed to PFAS. He’s about to get a crash course in it all.
We need to protect our veterans and our military members. They’re the ones who have signed up and are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe. Yet, we have not been able to keep them safe from all of the hazards.
Take the vaccine and risk it not being very effective. Don’t take the vaccine and risk potential complications from COVID-19. It’s not an easy decision to make, and it’s one that no one really knows how it will turn out just yet.