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West Point retaliating against unvaccinated cadets, family members say

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp)
June 18, 2021

The family members of U.S. Military Academy at West Point cadets said this week that the academy is singling out and retaliating against students who have declined to take voluntary COVID-19 vaccines.

On Thursday, Fox News reported about three dozen West Point cadets out of the approximately 4,500 student body have continued to refuse the voluntary vaccine. Multiple sources told Fox News that cadets now face stricter COVID-19-related quarantines and other restrictions than they did at the height of the pandemic, before the vaccine was available.

Documents obtained by Fox News showed unvaccinated cadets were cited with Negative Cadet Observation Reports, (NCORs), for allegedly violating mask and social distancing guidelines when they sat less than six feet apart from one another on outdoor bleachers without masks.

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, the parents of three of those students described how their children are now being targeted.

Unvaccinated students also have to complete a seven-day quarantine during their break before summer training, essentially costing them a week of leave time.

Elita Perusek, a 1993 West Point graduate herself, whose son is in his final year at the academy, told Hannity, “He was counseled before he left West Point by his tactical office who told him that because he chose to exercise his right to not take the vaccine that he would be called ‘susceptible status’…and that he would have to submit to restriction of movement throughout the summer. Which meant that he would have to give up some of his leave.”

Another cadet, who spoke to Fox News on condition of anonymity, for fear of retribution, said the travel restrictions are “like solitary confinement – for a disease we don’t have.”

Brian MacDonald said his West Point cadet daughter previously caught COVID-19 and may already have a degree of natural immunity to the virus. He said, “She’s in a position where she’s had COVID, she recovered from COVID, she has the antibodies for COVID, and West Point is putting a ridiculous amount of pressure on her to take the vaccine.”

The various COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. are allowed through an FDA Emergency Use Authorization and have not received full FDA approval. As such, the U.S. military has not made the vaccine mandatory and President Joe Biden has not decided whether he will mandate vaccines for the military once there is an FDA approval. Without that full FDA approval, some of the West Point remain concerned about the long-term health effects of the vaccine.

Mathias Sampson, a 20-year Army veteran and the father of another West Point cadet, told Hannity, “My daughter has valid concerns about this vaccination – concerns pertaining to fertility, long-term effects. [Neither] the CDC nor West Point have answers to these concerns.”

Hannity also shared reports that West Point COVID coordinator Col. Laura Dawson has been accused of threatening unvaccinated cadets, calling them “selfish” and even suggesting that if they don’t get the vaccine they may have to leave the service academy altogether.

Other sources told Fox News unvaccinated cadets have been derided as “diseased” and “dirty.” Sources also claimed vaccinated cadets have been instructed not to socialize with their unvaccinated peers.

West Point acknowledged reports of harrassment of unvaccinated students in response to Fox News’ questions on the matter.

The West Point public affairs office told Fox News, “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.”

Fox News also obtained a spreadsheet, showing the vaccine status for all students at the academy. West Point confirmed the authenticity of the spreadsheet, saying it “inadvertently” disseminated that information throughout the campus.