BALTIMORE — On Monday, the Pfizer vaccine is fully approved by the FDA.
Many are calling the stamp of approval a big step towards swaying more people towards getting vaccinated that haven’t yet.
The United States Defense Secretary said if a vaccine receives FDA approval it will be added to the list of mandated vaccines.
Members of the military are required to take all FDA mandated vaccinations upon entering.
Right now, around 30% of the military is unvaccinated.
Sean Timmons is a managing Partner at Tully Rinckey who specializes in military law.
“Our office is flooded with calls from individuals who have multiple objections,” Timmons said. “Some of the objections may be from conspiracy theories that are not valid. However, the majority of objections generally seemed to be faith based religious opposition or medical concerns.”
The military will not provide free legal counsel to seek a waiver, which Timmons says is unusual.
He anticipates multiple cases to be filed by members of the military trying to stop the mandatory vaccination program.
“The argument would be the FDA process is not followed correctly,” Timmons said. “Because it was rushed it violated the existing protocols in place under the administrative procedures act. That may well entitle individuals to temporary relief.”
Military members could apply for a medical waiver, but the needle of the law is bending towards the military and not the members for that option.
“Medical exemption will be tricky if somebody says I’m medically unable to take the vaccine the military’s response will probably be you are medically unable to serve,” Timmons said. “You have to meet medical retention criteria in order to keep serving. It favors discharge from a medical point of view because they will no longer be able to be deployable worldwide.”
People trying to join the military may not be allowed to go through recruiting if they don’t get the vaccine.
But if they are already serving, they may be vested and could get religious exemption.
“Under existing regulations, under regulation 600-20 for example, army command policy outlines the opportunity for those with religious objections to go to the Chaplin to express their need to a religious accommodation,” Timmons said
If you’re in the military and don’t take either of those routes you could be court marshaled for violating a lawful order and be sentenced to a disgrace or discharged and confined.
“I would recommend everyone get vaccinated, I myself have to perform international travel for my case advocacy. I was vaccinated from Anthrax too, I didn’t have any, knock on wood, side effects from that.”
Timmons believes this will end up in the Supreme Court.
And a negative trickledown effect will be the influx of work that military justice offices will now have to take on with vaccine related consequences.