While the Pentagon is working to get service members vaccinated against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), it appears some soldiers’ reasoning for opting out of the vaccine is simple: They can.

A slide posted by Fort Carson on Facebook lays out the top 12 reasons soldiers have given for why they’re opting out of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Reasons range from serious concerns like how it will impact a pregnancy and the safety of the vaccine itself to the not-so-serious, like whether it’s FDA approved, even as soldiers drink their weight in non-FDA approved energy drinks.

Then there are the soldiers who are refusing the vaccine solely because they can. We’re serious. One of the reasons listed was: “This is the first time I get to tell the Army, NO!” 

That is some seriously petty energy, given the stakes: we’re talking about a vaccine meant to address a virus responsible for more than 560,000 deaths in the U.S. alone.

Army photo

As of Monday morning more than 765,000 service members have received at least the first vaccine shot, according to data published by the Pentagon, and many troops who were originally opting out of the vaccine are starting to change their minds. But that doesn’t mean service members, much like other American citizens, don’t have concerns about the vaccine. 

One of the reasons identified by Fort Carson that soldiers opted out of the vaccine is because it isn’t FDA approved. Well, as the creators of the slide at Fort Carson explained, neither are most energy drinks or supplements — and that hasn’t stopped most of you. 

Another reason is “I am not in the high-risk population.” Great! But as Fort Carson says in its slide: It’s not about you.

“Defeating the virus is a community effort,” the slide says. “Consider how you might protect people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, such as healthcare providers, older or elderly adults, and people with other medical conditions, as well as children and other people who cannot get vaccinated.” 

Earlier this month a soldier in the 18th Airborne Corps explained that he’d changed his mind about not wanting to get vaccinated after talking with a friend and family member who are healthcare workers. 

“I thought you know. I can’t be selfish … I don’t personally want to be responsible for, whether knowingly or unknowingly, passing the disease on to someone’s sibling, mom, dad, and them having to deal with that experience,” Spc. Kendall Lewis said. “Any small part I can play in doing away with COVID, I was definitely on board with that.” 

The bottom line is that everyone has their own reasons for getting vaccinated, and everyone should do research so they’re comfortable with their decision. But as Fort Carson’s post suggests, perhaps that research should involve talking to a medical professional or reading legitimate educational materials instead of a meme on your buddy’s Facebook page or on the advice of the nearest barracks lawyer.

Featured photo: Soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School stand in formation after donning their green berets for the first time during a Regimental First Formation at Fort Bragg, North Carolina July 9, 2020. (U.S. Army photo by K. Kassens)