HANNITY EXCLUSIVE: The push for coronavirus vaccinations at the U.S. Military Academy began once the first shots became available back in January – but even as the inoculation rate rises and deaths and new cases both fall, the families of unvaccinated cadets say they are facing increasing pressure, coercion, and even threats to get the jab.
West Point does not have a vaccine mandate, nor does the military as a whole.
Still, there are only about three dozen unvaccinated cadets at West Point, which accommodates more than 4,500 students.
The unvaccinated few, many of whom say they have gained natural immunity from catching the virus earlier, face stricter quarantines and other restrictions now than at the height of the pandemic, according to multiple sources. The new limits include a seven-day quarantine for unvaccinated cadets in the break before summer training. That requirement took a full week away from their time off.
They should also be worn while cadets are swimming unless social distancing of six feet is maintained.
The only time the guidelines don’t require masks for unvaccinated individuals is during physical training – when they’ll presumably be breathing heaviest.
The U.S. Military Academy’s Public Affairs Office said vaccines are encouraged but not mandatory and that it had protocols in place because vaccinated individuals can spread the virus to unvaccinated peers.
“Though they train together and are fully integrated in all activities, unvaccinated cadets are currently being housed separately from vaccinated cadets to minimize transmission risk and are provided with equal or better living conditions,” a spokesperson said. “The academy’s risk mitigation plan for summer military training was developed under the guidance of medical advisors, experience from last year’s academy summer training experiences, and is aligned with the measures used in other military training exercises across the Army.”
West Point also pushed back against allegations that the school’s COVID coordinator, Col. Laura Dawson, attempted to coerce cadets into getting the vaccine or face the possibility of leaving the academy.
“Currently, the Department of Defense is not mandating vaccinations for U.S. military members, and it remains optional but encouraged for West Point personnel,” the school said. “Any harassment, abuse, threats, or punitive measures targeting unvaccinated personnel is antithetical to West Point policy, ideals, and Army values. West Point takes every report of inappropriate behavior very seriously and takes immediate actions to address such reports in a timely manner,” according to the public affairs office.
Sources also alleged that unvaccinated cadets are being derided as “diseased” and “dirty” and treated as outcasts on campus despite having concerns about the vaccine’s side effects or having obtained natural immunity to the virus from prior infection.
Vaccinated cadets have allegedly been told to avoid socializing with their unvaccinated peers.
The school acknowledged that such heckling had been reported but said the issue had been addressed.
“Any harassment, abuse, threats, or punitive measures targeting unvaccinated personnel is incompatible with West Point policies, ideals, and Army values,” the public affairs office said.
Still, a spring semester seminar that sources described as a “re-education briefing” also failed to address the concerns of the unvaccinated cadets, whom sources say were demonized for holding out.
Fox News has also reviewed a spreadsheet circulating on campus which lists cadets by name along with their vaccine status, year and other personal information.
The school confirmed its authenticity and said the information had been “inadvertently” disseminated. Officials were looking into the matter.
Some of the impacted cadets said they felt that the environment appeared to make the vaccine feel mandatory without officially being mandatory.
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