The United States military services have begun implementing disciplinary actions and discharges to any troops who refuse to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As many as 20,000 unvaccinated forces could be removed from service.
The Marine Corps mentioned on Thursday they have already discharged 103 Marines for refusing to vaccinate. The Army has stated it has reprimanded over 2,700 soldiers and will begin discharge procedures in January.
Earlier this week the Air Force discharged 27 airmen for refusing to receive the COVID vaccine. The Navy announced its new discipline procedure this week. So far they have fired one sailor for refusing to be tested for COVID-19 while he attempts to get exemption status.
For months military leaders have been warning troops they would face consequences if they did not follow COVID vaccine mandates. It has only been recently that they have begun to publicly follow through on their threats.
Currently, there are roughly 30,000 service members who have yet received the COVID vaccine. It is unclear how many troops could end up being discharged. However, several thousand military members have been temporary or permanent medical or administrative exemptions approved.
Thousands of the 20,000 plus unvaccinated members are working on the exemption process or have flatly refused the COVID vaccine. This equals out to roughly 1.5% of the roughly 1.3 million active-duty troops.
Over 12,000 military personnel have sought religious exemptions. Roughly 4,800 Army and Air Force service members have unequivocally refused to be vaccinated for COVID-19. The Marine Corps and Navy have not disclosed their refusal totals yet.
Defense Secretary Llyod Austin is concerned about getting as many service members vaccinated from the virus as possible, according to Pentagon chief spokesman John Kirby. He stated that Austin “would tell these individuals…to get the vaccine if they are medically eligible.”
Kirby added, Get the vaccine because it’s the best way to protect themselves and their units.” The military is focused on “getting the vaccination rate as close to 100 percent as possible.”
Written by Sheena Robertson
NBC News: More than 100 Marines discharged for refusing Covid vaccine as troops across services face discipline
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