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Rubio, Colleagues Send Letter to Veterans Affairs Regarding Vaccine Injuries

Oct 10, 2023 | Press Releases

Thousands of U.S. military service members were discharged from service as a result of refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. While many service members opted to receive the vaccine to continue their service, some have experienced lasting negative health impacts from the vaccine. 

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and colleagues sent a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough asking the Department to clarify the VA’s policies surrounding COVID-19 vaccine related injuries, including how the VA determines disability benefits for such injuries.  

  • “If our government is asking service members to receive a vaccine, we must be cognizant that there will be unintended side effects that may cause lifelong impacts on their health. We must keep our promise to support our service members, including ensuring those who come to the VA for help with COVID-19 vaccine injuries are justly compensated and receive the care that they deserve.”

Joining Rubio were Senators Rick Scott (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R- TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Mike Braun (R-IN).

The full text of the letter is below. 

Dear Secretary McDonough:

We write for clarification on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policy for veterans who have injuries resulting from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine while in service. As you are aware, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) required all service members to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Many service members, despite hesitations against receiving the vaccine, chose to be vaccinated to continue their service to our country. While the DoD’s vaccine mandate has been repealed as part of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, the VA has an important role to play in providing benefits and healthcare for service members who are facing health impacts that resulted from the vaccine.

Thousands of service members were discharged from service as a result of refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Yet, some U.S. service members received the vaccine to maintain their service and have since experienced lasting health impacts as a result. If our government is asking service members to receive a vaccine, we must be cognizant that there will be unintended side effects that may cause lifelong impacts on their health. We must keep our promise to support our service members, including ensuring those who come to the VA for help with COVID-19 vaccine injuries are justly compensated and receive the care that they deserve.

For years, the VA has evaluated the health effects of certain vaccinations that veterans received during their service, and have expressed concern with certain health impacts arising from these vaccinations.1 The agency has also provided several resources to veterans seeking the COVID-19 vaccination, but no clear information about how to support members who are injured as a result of the vaccine. Given the high rate of service members who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 under DoD’s mandate, we request information as to how the VA is considering vaccine-related injuries in determining VA benefits and disability claims.

In order to better serve our constituents who may be seeking help from the VA related to injuries related to COVID-19 vaccines they received while a member of the Armed Forces, we request the following information:

  1.  What is the VA’s process for considering COVID-19 vaccine injuries for disability claims?
  2. Does the VA consider COVID-19 vaccine injuries as service-related if the service member received the vaccine during service?
  3. Has the VA investigated the health effects of COVID-19 vaccine injuries?
  4. What resources does the VA provide service members who are concerned that a
    COVID-19 vaccination led to their injury?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,