U.S. forces sanction those who are not vaccinated – archyde

The U.S. armed forces have already begun disciplinary action and sacrifices against soldiers who have refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Up to 20,000 soldiers are threatened with being fired.

On Thursday, the Marine Corps reported that it has so far fired 103 soldiers for refusing to receive the vaccine and the Army has reprimanded 2,700 and will begin firing in January. The Air Force announced this week that 27 of its members have been sacked for non-compliance with vaccination orders. And the Navy this week detailed their new disciplinary procedure and has already fired a sailor from his command post for refusing to undergo a test while filing an exemption.

The military leadership has been warning for months that soldiers will face consequences if they fail to follow the COVID-19 vaccination order, which is seen as legitimate, but it was only last week that they began to act on the threats.

It wasn’t clear how many could be released, but according to the armed forces, at least 30,000 of their soldiers have not yet been vaccinated, despite several thousand of them having granted temporary or permanent medical or regulatory exemptions. Of the others – most likely 20,000 or more – thousands are in the waiver process or have refused to be vaccinated. That is about 1.5% of the 1.3 million soldiers on active service.

The numbers reflect a calculated risk – that the number of soldiers discharged from service for refusal to vaccinate poses a lesser threat than the prospect of the virus spreading uncontrollably among the troops.

More than 12,000 have applied for religious exemptions. And around 4,800 members of the army and air force have stubbornly refused to be vaccinated without applying for an exception. The Navy and Marine Corps have not released numbers for those who refused.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s main goal was to vaccinate as many soldiers as possible.

“What he would say to these people if he had the opportunity to speak to them directly is to get vaccinated if they are medically appropriate,” said Kirby. “Get vaccinated because it is the best way to protect yourself and your units. That is the concern to increase the vaccination coverage as close as possible to 100%.

The army is the last force to meet the deadline for the vaccination of its soldiers. On Thursday, the army said 98% of its active soldiers had received at least one dose, but that more than 3,800 flatly refused to be vaccinated and could be released starting next month.

The Marines said 95% of their troops had received at least one dose by Thursday. Approximately 97.5% of the Air Force and Space Force have received at least one dose, and more than 1,000 soldiers have turned it down. And 98.4% of the Navy is fully vaccinated. The Navy hasn’t released the numbers for those on a single dose.

When asked about the impact on military readiness if soldiers continue to refuse to discharge vaccines, Kirby said soldiers still have time to do the right thing. “Of course we hope they do,” he said. “But if not, it is a legitimate order and must be followed because it is a valid medical requirement.”

Although each branch has developed its own process, they all follow the existing rules in case a soldier fails to obey a legitimate order. Being expelled from the military for not wanting to be vaccinated was rare, but soldiers can be discharged if they disobey orders.

According to data released Thursday, the army, the largest military service, reported the lowest number of troops requesting religious exemptions – just over 1,700 soldiers – compared to any other force. More than 4,700 Air Force Soldiers, 3,100 Marines, and 2,700 Navy requested religious exemptions, according to data released by those services last week. None have been approved yet.

The Pentagon this year made coronavirus vaccination mandatory for all of its members, including the National Guard and the Reserve. Austin has repeatedly said that vaccination is critical to maintaining a healthy force ready to defend the nation. The Pentagon also made booster doses mandatory.

The 478,000 active army soldiers had until Wednesday to get vaccinated. The Air Force required vaccinations for its active duty members by November 2, while the Navy and Marines have until June 2022.

“The vaccination of our soldiers against COVID-19 is primarily focused on the readiness of the army,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in a statement. “To those who continue to oppose the vaccine and are not waiting for a decision on a medical or regulatory exception, I urge you to get vaccinated. Otherwise we will initiate the involuntary disbursement process ”.

In addition to the more than 2,700 soldiers in the army who were reprimanded in writing for refusing to vaccinate, six were released from command positions. West Point Military Academy cadets who refuse to be vaccinated and are not granted an exemption will not be granted officer rank.

According to the army, more than 6,200 soldiers have requested temporary or permanent exemptions, 1,746 of them for religious reasons. Nearly 3,900 have received temporary medical or regulatory exemptions and four have permanent medical exemptions

Temporary medical exemptions may include pregnancy or other reasons, and administrative exemptions may apply to those who are retiring or are in remote locations with no access to vaccines.

In the military, the response to vaccines has mirrored that of society in general, with thousands reluctant to receive them, but the percentage of soldiers – especially those on active duty – who have been vaccinated is rapidly exceeding the national average. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 72% of the adult population in the United States over the age of 18 have received at least one dose. American soldiers typically need up to 17 vaccinations depending on where in the world they are being sent.


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