FORT KNOX, Ky – The writing’s literally on the wall at Fort Knox’s COVID-19 vaccination site. Soldiers are using markers to record their reasons for choosing to get vaccinated, then pinning those reasons to a wall.
Choosing to receive the vaccine is voluntary - with the military opt-in rate currently around two-thirds, say Pentagon officials. From the Secretary of Defense down through unit leadership, encouraging troops to choose vaccination is a part of the Department of Defense’s #MyWhy messaging campaign.
Vaccine hesitancy is thought to be more prevalent among younger, healthy troops, a demographic leadership is hoping to reach. Spc. Marcus Johnson, a Trainer Operator at V Corps, rolled up his sleeve on Thursday. “I know I hear a lot of rumors, people saying, ‘Oh no, you should wait, you should wait,’” said Johnson. “But I feel like the more we wait, the more time it takes to find the answers we’re looking for to find a cure.”
Fitting in the ‘young and healthy’ category, Capt. Lauren Dodd, Veterinary Clinic officer in charge, wrote her reason why on the wall after receiving the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. “I think at first [I was hesitant] and then, you know, I came around to the idea for getting vaccinated after seeing the science.” Dodd’s ‘MyWhy’ reason is, “to protect those around me.”
As the day progressed and more shots were given, others took a moment to jot their motivating factors on the wall. “For my family and co-workers” read one sign, “To get back to normal!” read another. Brig. Gen. T.J. Edwards got creative, inking bold lettering and a cartoon-style drawing. Someone else drew an American flag near the words: “To stay safe on my deployment.”
The U.S. surpassed 500,000 COVID-19 deaths Feb. 22, with President Biden ordering U.S. flags on federal properties lowered to half-staff for five days. The pandemic’s toll on health and personal freedom weigh heavily on Servicemembers’ minds. A high-ranking enlisted Soldier had no doubts about his reason why: “No hesitancy at all. Not in the past or today. I just want to get back to normal life.”
Getting back to normal is a recurring reason seen at the Fort Knox vaccination site. Soldiers will defeat COVID-19, by choosing to roll up their sleeves – the writing’s on the wall.