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Active US Army is 98% vaccinated; 10,000+ unvaccinated

U.S. Army Soldiers draw and prepare vaccines at the Atlanta Community Vaccination Center in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, March 26, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Robert P Wormley III)
December 16, 2021

The U.S. Army announced on Thursday that it 98 percent of the active force has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine active force after passing its Dec. 15, service-wide vaccine deadline.

In an emailed press statement, the Army said 96 percent of active service members – a total of 461,209 Soldiers – are fully vaccinated, while 7,250 have finished their first dose. A total of 10,153 active service members are not vaccinated against COVID-19 at all.

Of the 10,153 unvaccinated troops, the Army received 621 requests for permanent medical exemptions, of which it has approved four, rejected 516 and is currently considering 101.

The Army has also received 1,746 religious exemptions. A total of 85 religious exemption requests have been officially rejected, while 1,661 remain in the review process. The Army, like the other military branches, has yet to approve a single exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine on religious grounds.

The Army has proved 6,263 temporary exemptions, with many of those covering service members with pending requests for permanent exemptions.

23 soldiers have no recorded vaccination status. Those numbers include some soldiers who are on terminal leave at the end of their military service or who have joined the Army but have not yet arrived at a duty station where receive the vaccine or report their vaccine status to their command.

3,864 troops, or less than one percent of the active force, have outright refused the vaccine with no requests for medical, administrative or religious exemptions.

The Army revealed it relieved a total of six active-duty leaders, including two battalion commanders. The service has also issued 2,767 general officer written reprimands to soldiers for refusing the vaccination order.

Vaccination levels for the Army drop somewhat when including reserve components, such as the Army Reserve and National Guard. About 83 percent of soldiers across all Army components have received at least one vaccine dose. The Army said it would provide more up-to-date numbers of vaccination rates and exemptions for the reserve components when their vaccination deadline passes in June.

Vaccinations for the National Guard are likely to come with additional challenges. Six state’s governors now have requested that the Department of Defense excuse their National Guard troops from the vaccine requirements, arguing that unless those troops are called up for federal service under Title 10 of the U.S. Code, the state’s governors retain full command of the forces.

The DoD’s position is that because National Guard troops received federal funding during Title 32 deployments, they can be mandated to take the vaccines even though they technically answer to their state’s leaders rather than the federal chain of command.

Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, one of the governors challenging the DoD’s authority on the vaccine mandate, has filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s administration, aiming to end the mandate.