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3,000+ US troops punished, 500+ kicked out for refusing COVID vaccines

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Anthony holds a COVID-19 vaccine vial at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, Feb. 4, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert)
January 28, 2022

As of this week, six active-duty U.S. Army leaders and 3,073 soldiers have received official reprimands for refusing the COVID-19 vaccines. Another 555 service members across the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps have been kicked out of the ranks for refusing President Joe Biden’s military-wide vaccine mandate.

In a Thursday email, the Army released its latest report on vaccinations within the service. While the Army has yet to separate a single service member on the basis of a COVID-19 vaccine refusal, it has issued 3,073 general officer written reprimands. The Army has also relieved six Army leaders of their commands, including two battalion commanders.

97 percent of the active-duty component of the Army has received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. 96 percent are considered fully vaccinated.

Among the Army Reserve, 83 percent are considered at least partially vaccinated, with 79 percent considered fully vaccinated.

The Army is not providing vaccination rates or information about refusals and exemptions for the Army National Guard units of the various states and territories at this time. The Army Reserve and Army National Guard have a June 30, 2022 deadline for their vaccine mandate.

The Army has also not specified when it may begin separating soldiers for vaccine refusals.

The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps have, by contrast, already embraced separating service members for their vaccine refusals.

The Marine Corps leads the U.S. military branches for COVID-19 vaccine-related separations. In an emailed statement to American Military News on Thursday, the branch confirmed 399 Marines have been separated for vaccine refusals so far.

The Marine Corps reports 97 percent of the active-duty service has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 95 percent of the active-duty service is fully vaccinated. Among the Marine Corps Reserve, 88 percent are at least partially vaccinated, with 87 percent considered fully vaccinated.

The Air Force has the second-highest number of service members separated for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. As of Tuesday, the service reported it had separated 111 active duty service members for refusing the vaccines. Those numbers reflect both Air Force Airmen and U.S. Space Force Guardians.

95.7 percent of the total Air Force (including the active component, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard) are fully vaccinated. Another 0.3 percent of the total force has received just one vaccine dose.

The Navy has processed the fewest separations so far, of the branches that have begun separations. As of Wednesday, the Navy reported it had separated 45 sailors for COVID-19 vaccine refusals.

Since Nov. 15, the Navy has reported 99 percent of its active force has received at least one vaccine dose and 95 percent are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19.