The Nov. 2 roundtable discussion at the Capitol Hill was hosted by Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Johnson said the roundtable was part of his effort to hold federal agencies accountable, as well as to encourage officials to be "honest and transparent" about the COVID-19 vaccines. "We all want the pandemic to be over, but ignoring early treatment and implementing policies that do more damage is not the solution," he said.
Testifying under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, Long said she had grounded three pilots due to COVID-19 vaccine injuries.
Long said two of the pilots she saw in the clinic had chest pain days to weeks after they received COVID-19 vaccines. The pilots were later diagnosed with pericarditis – a condition in which the protective, fluid-filled sac covering the heart (pericardium) becomes inflamed.
The third pilot told Long he felt fatigued within 24 hours of vaccination. She said the pilot told her he did not know what to do and that he simply drank a lot of coffee to try and wake himself up. He continued to fly until he realized the fatigue was not going away.
Following the groundings, Long said she had suffered harassment.
"After I reported to my command my concerns that in one morning I had to ground three out of three pilots due to vaccine injuries, the next day my patients were canceled, my charts were pulled for review, and I was told that I would not be seeing acute patients anymore, just healthy pilots there for their flight physical," she said.
According to Long, she warned medical leaders that pilots could die in midair from COVID-19 vaccine injuries. She had asked them to inform soldiers of that risk but her concerns were ignored.
Long said she decided to speak up after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in June an emergency meeting to discuss "higher than expected" cases of myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscle – in young adults who received COVID-19 vaccines. Despite the announcement, Long said the military did not slow or pause its vaccination efforts.
Lt. Col. Andy Thaggard, a spokesperson for the 1st Aviation Brigade at Fort Rucker, Alabama, said on Wednesday, Nov. 3, that Long appeared at the roundtable "in her own individual capacity."
Long's testimony comes as the military weighs penalties for service members who refuse to get vaccinated. The vast majority of the active-duty force has received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, but tens of thousands have not.
Military vaccination rates are higher than those of the general population in the United States. However, that's largely because military personnel are routinely required to get as many as 17 vaccines and face penalties for refusing. As it stands, those who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine will first be counseled by their chain of command and medical providers.
However, continued failure to comply could result in relief of duties.
According to Long, more than 200,000 service members have rejected the COVID-19 vaccine. Yet the military continues to press forward. "We have never lost 200,000 soldiers on the battlefield in a few months," Long said. "Taking soldiers out of uniform has the same impact on readiness as losing them on the battlefield."
On Sept. 28, Long had filed an affidavit against the Biden administration's military vaccine mandate as part of a pending lawsuit seeking an injunction against attempts to force military personnel to get the COVID-19 vaccines. (Related: Pentagon faces class-action lawsuit over vaccine mandates on military, federal employees and contractors.)
Two staff sergeants of the U.S. Armed Forces had originally filed the lawsuit in August. The U.S. District Court for Colorado rejected the lawsuit but invited the plaintiffs to present new evidence, which includes Long's testimony. So far, the Biden administration has ignored the lawsuit.
VaccineInjuryNews.com has more articles about adverse reactions following COVID-19 vaccination.