The US military said that US soldiers who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will immediately be discharged, the Army said on Wednesday, along with other branches of the military, including the air forcehas begun to phase out vaccine stocks.
The Pentagon announced the mission to vaccinate the armed forces last August, and the Army set a deadline effective December 15, 2021, for all active-duty military and reservists, as well as serving academy cadets, to receive immunizations or a waiver. Most active-duty Army soldiers are vaccinated.
In a statement on Wednesday, Christine Wormuth, the Secretary of the Army, cited the need for combat readiness when announcing that the small number of soldiers still refusing to fire would be fired.
“Military readiness depends on soldiers being prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars,” Ms. Worthuth said. “Unvaccinated soldiers pose a risk to the force and jeopardize readiness. We will initiate involuntary segregation proceedings for soldiers who refuse vaccination orders and are not awaiting a final decision on waivers. “
The military said service members discharged for refusing to be vaccinated will not receive involuntary separations and they may have to return incentive bonuses or other special compensation they received. .
The Pentagon says that 97 percent of the 1.3 million active-duty members in the United States have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. To date, less than 100 service members have been separated for non-compliance.
Exemptions from duty are rarely granted, and those granted are usually only temporary. Two Marines recently received a religious exemption, the first of its kind since the mission was announced last summer.
The National Guard and non-service reservists still have time to comply with the regulations of the vaccination unit; the deadline for them falls at the end of the year. Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III rejected the efforts of seven Republican governors discharge their state’s National Guard troops.
To date, about 80 members of the military uniformed have died from the coronavirus.