U.S. Army soldiers stationed in Germany are experiencing significant delays in their vaccine rollout after the Biden administration came under fire for now-shelved plans to put detainees in Guantanamo Bay at the front of the line.
Troops and their families residing near Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Ramstein Air Base are facing cancelled vaccine appointments due to shrinking supplies. The doses may not be available for several weeks, according to the medical center.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) pressed the Department of Defense to act quickly on aiding Americans overseas and said the situation is disappointing.
"Our men and women serving their country—especially those who are serving abroad, away from their family and friends and, in many instances unable to come home for almost a year—should be a priority for the Department of Defense," McCaul said. "Especially when reports show a significant number of U.S. troops are hesitant to take the vaccine, it’s incredibly disappointing to hear those who desperately want the vaccine are having a hard time receiving it."
Delays in administering the vaccine come after early reports of the Biden administration’s plans to vaccinate inmates in Guantanamo Bay. The Biden administration originally aimed to use taxpayer dollars to vaccinate detainees in the facility, many of whom have been convicted of terror charges and other serious crimes. The plan was disclosed as millions of Americans await their own vaccinations. After Republican pressure, Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said the Pentagon paused plans to vaccinate inmates on Jan. 31. He also said that former president Trump laid the groundwork for the vaccine rollout among Guantanamo Bay inmates.
Forces in Germany, meanwhile, say they feel neglected by the slowed vaccine process. A review of a military Facebook group for the station done by Stars and Stripes showed that members expressed a sense that the government does not care about their vaccination status.
"It feels like troops overseas are being deprioritized because no one can brag about us in their state vaccination stats," one commenter said. "We are orphaned."
"I just wish we were a priority," another commenter said.
A spokesman for the Pentagon's Regional Health Command in Europe told the Washington Free Beacon that they are aware of the growing concern among service people and their families, and asked for patience as they respond.
"Our leadership team is working hard with the Army and DoD to find ways to get COVID vaccines to our military community here in Europe as quickly as possible," the spokesman said. "We understand and appreciate that people in our military community are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to be vaccinated. However, the current demand for the COVID vaccine continues to outweigh the supply. We ask for the community’s patience as we continue to work through limited vaccine supply constraints."