According to data released by the Army, more than 2,700 soldiers who refused the vaccine have already been given written reprimands, and six soldiers have been fired from leadership positions.
Army officials said Thursday that 98% of their active duty force had gotten at least one dose of the mandatory coronavirus vaccine as of this week’s deadline for the shots but that more than 3,800 soldiers flatly refused and could start being removed from the military next month.
The U.S. military’s largest service, however, reported the lowest number of service members seeking a religious exemption — a bit more than 1,700 soldiers — compared with the other three smaller services. In comparison, there are more than 4,700 in the Air Force, 3,000 in the Marine Corps and 2,700 in the Navy who are requesting religious exemptions, according to data released by the services in the past week. None has yet been approved.
The Pentagon announced earlier this year that the COVID-19 vaccine was mandatory for all service members, including the National Guard and Reserve. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said repeatedly that getting the vaccine is critical to maintaining a heathy, ready force that can be prepared to defend the nation. The Pentagon is also weighing making the vaccine booster shots mandatory for service members.
The Army, which totals more than 478,000 active duty soldiers, had the last vaccine deadline among the services for their active duty troops, Wednesday. And it scored the second highest rate for those who have gotten at least one shot, 97.9%. The Navy leads with more than 98%, while the Air Force is at 97.5% and the Marine Corps is at 95%.
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