A former National Guardsman from Maine says he was given a COVID-19 vaccination despite seeking a religious exemption from the mandated shot.
In response, a representative for the Maine National Guard called the incident a mistake, according to Just the News.
Former National Guard Spc. Mathew Bouchard told the outlet he was getting a flu shot in November, two months before he was ready to leave the Guard, after filling out the required COVID-19 vaccine refusal forms.
Bouchard said two lines had been formed for the shots, one for the COVID-19 vaccine and one for the flu shot. At one point, he said, the noncommissioned officer giving the COVID-19 shots said that those wanting flu shots could come into his line. When questioned, the NCO changed his mind, Bouchard said.
The day after getting the shot, Bouchard said, he was told he had received the mRNA vaccine, but that this was not part of a plan.
R. Davis Younts, an attorney for the former guardsman, said he was a “victim” of what the Guard described as a “mistake” and was “[n]ever interviewed and never informed of the investigation or the outcome of the investigation,” according to Just the News.
Bouchard, who tried to pursue a local police complaint but was told it was a federal case, might make a complaint to the inspector general, Younts said.
According to the report, he and another National Guardsman said other service members expecting flu shots got the COVID-19 vaccine.
For this “to happen different times to more than one person is troubling,” Younts said, adding that it was “a big deal for someone to receive the wrong medical treatment.”
The attorney said the climate around vaccinations could be a contributing factor.
Commanders face “tremendous pressure” to get troops vaccinated “no matter what,” Younts said. “The commanders must account for how many of their members are vaccinated and will be judged harshly for those who aren’t.”
He said that in that climate, commanders could make mistakes or try “to cut corners or do things that are suspicious.”
A Guard representative told Just the News the incident was a “mistake.”
“The Maine National Guard has not, and would never purposefully administer a COVID vaccine in place of an influenza vaccine,” the representative said in a statement.
“A very small number of service members were accidentally given a COVID vaccine several months ago during a clinic for service members where both shots were being administered,” the representative said. “Those involved were informed as soon as the error was made known, the incident was investigated, and protocols were adjusted appropriately to ensure the same mistake was not made again.”
“Of the 54 state and territorial National Guard elements, Maine has consistently been in the top 5 for vaccination percentage for quite some time,” Maine National Guard Public Affairs Officer Maj. Carl Lamb said.
“I think it’s partly the emphasis of our supervisors, and commanders, and leaders on educating the members on the vaccination, what it meant, and why it is important,” Maine National Guard Adjutant General Doug Farnham said, according to WCSH.
“Also, just the culture here in the state of Maine. Maine as a whole did a great job getting vaccinations done compared to some other parts of the country,” Farnham said.
In August, the Navy reported about 1,500 active-duty and reserve sailors were separated from the service for not being vaccinated against COVID-19, according to USNI News.
At that time, 3,000 active-duty sailors and 3,376 reservists were unvaccinated, with many of those having requested religious exemptions.
CORRECTION, Oct. 4, 2022: An earlier version of this article included an incorrect figure for service members with pending religious exemption requests.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.