Two U.S. servicemen have filed a lawsuit against the Defense Department to exempt those with COVID-19 antibodies from a mandatory vaccine order for the military.
Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Robert and Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Hollie Mulvihill filed a lawsuit on August 17 seeking an exemption for service members who have already contracted and recovered from COVID-19, according to Military.com.
“Service members that have natural immunity, developed from surviving the virus, should be granted a medical exception from compulsory vaccination because the DoD instruction policy reflects the well-established understanding that prior infection provides the immune system’s best possible response to the virus,” the lawsuit states.
The pair filed a request for an injunction to block the vaccine mandate last week as the Pentagon moves forward with vaccinating all unvaccinated service members.
“These are the healthiest people on the planet in their age group … so why are we rushing? What is the compelling reason forcing the military to say, ‘You must take this vaccine, regardless of what the law says?’” the servicemen’s attorney Todd Callender said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a memo on August 9 mandating that every U.S. service member be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as a vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) beyond the emergency use authorization the vaccines have been distributed under. The FDA approved the first vaccine, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, on August 23.
Two days after the vaccine’s approval, Austin sent out another memo ordering the vaccination process to begin “immediately.” A possibility exists for service members to get a religious exemption to the vaccine, though anyone denied the exemption and who still refuses to get vaccinated will be relieved of duty.
Last week, a group of GOP senators introduced a bill that would prevent the military from dishonorably discharging service members who refuse to take the vaccine. As The Daily Wire reported:
Last week, GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), James Lankford (OK), and Roger Marshall (KS) introduced the “COVID-19 Vaccine Dishonorable Discharge Prevention Act,” seeking to block any attempts to dishonorably discharge U.S. Military members who refuse the vaccine.
“[A] member of an Armed Force under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of a military department subject to discharge on the basis of the member choosing not to receive the COVID–19 vaccine may only receive an honorable discharge,” the bill text reads.
“It’s an insult to our servicemen and women who have served with honor to dishonorably discharge them for refusing the COVID vaccine,” Cruz said. “It is the same way we dishonorably discharge those convicted of serious crimes such as treason, desertion, sexual assault, and murder.”
Marshall noted that a dishonorable discharge would strip a service member of their Second Amendment rights and other opportunities.
“To have a dishonorable discharge will take away your Second Amendment, it’s going to keep you from accessing the educational opportunities the military affords as well as access to the VA for your healthcare. So this is a big big deal if you are in the military right now,” he said.