SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A town hall held Thursday, with the goal of educating military families, included experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Secretary of Defense.
Blue Star Families, a non profit that supports military families, organized the meeting, which was spurred by a survey they conducted in December that showed 53% of military families didn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The non profit put together it's first town hall to raise awareness in January. They stated more than half of that audience was willing to get the vaccine after learning the data behind it.
"It is absolutely critical that we get the military vaccinated and vaccinated as expeditiously as possible," Fauci said Thursday.
While their data shows hesitancy, San Diego sources say there isn't an issue locally.
Sources at Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar said they have no problems with vaccine distribution. They stated military members are lining up to get the vaccine and the two bases never have a surplus.
Sources also said they do not have a running tally of how many service members are getting vaccinated because it is currently voluntary.
Fauci said more than 80 million Americans have been vaccinated, three more vaccines are in the pipeline and the CDC is releasing new guidelines on how vaccinated and unvaccinated people should interact, in the coming days.
"In the home with family with friends, all of whom are vaccinated, then you don't have to be following the guidelines." Fauci said you don't have to worry about wearing a mask or social distancing.
The Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin III also encouraged his troops to get vaccinated.
He shared stories he heard from service members during his trip to Los Angeles and San Diego bases last week.
"Another described the satisfaction, as a matter of fact the relief that it gave him to administer the vaccine to his mother. As he described that to me, it nearly brought me to tears," he said.
Each expert had the same mission, "the sooner we all get vaccinated the sooner the pandemic ends." Lieutenant General Ronald J. Place, Director of the Defense Health Agency said in his decorated uniform.
Fauci shared information on how the vaccine was successful with thousands of pregnant women. He said elementary school children should be able to receive the vaccine in the first quarter of 2022.
When asked why young healthy military members should get the vaccine, he replied, 'so you are part of the solution, instead of unknowingly spreading the disease and adding to the problem.'
Fauci also encouraged everyone to continue wearing masks and social distancing until we have herd immunity. He said in the last week coronavirus cases in the U.S. have plateaued, which is cause for concern.
"Every time we've had another surge it starts off with a plateau," he said.
Vaccination is the only way to keep the virus from mutating, and to get back to normal.