The Marine Corps has booted 103 of its members for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine — as all branches of the US military have begun disciplinary actions and discharges against as many as 30,000 unvaccinated troops.
The Corps on Thursday said that 95 percent of its active-duty force of 182,500 Marines had received at least one jab, the lowest percentage among the military services, ABC News reported.
It has approved 1,007 medical and administrative exemptions and was still processing 2,863 of 3,144 requests made for a religious exemption, according to the news outlet
Meanwhile, the US Army — the largest service with 478,000 active-duty soldiers in its ranks — said it has reprimanded more than 2,700 of them and will begin discharge proceedings in January.
The Army said 98 percent of its active-duty force had gotten at least one shot, but that 3,864 soldiers — less than 1 percent of the active force — have flatly refused despite all the members being ordered to do so by Wednesday.
“Vaccinating our soldiers against COVID-19 is first and foremost about Army readiness,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in a statement Thursday.
United States Marines queue to receive the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at Camp Hansen in Kin, Japan.Getty Images
“To those who continue to refuse the vaccine and are not pending a final decision on a medical or administrative exemption, I strongly encourage you to get the vaccine. If not, we will begin involuntary separation proceedings,” she added.
The Army also announced that it has relieved six leaders — including two unidentified battalion commanding officers — over the issue, Politico reported. The others range in rank from sergeant to lieutenant colonel, an Army spokesperson told the outlet.
Earlier this week, the Air Force, which required vaccines for active-duty members by Nov. 2, said 27 airmen had been discharged for refusing the vaccine order.
About 97.5 percent of the Air Force and Space Force have gotten at least one jab, and a bit more than 1,000 have refused.
The Navy — which has 98.4 percent fully vaccinated — on Wednesday issued guidance to its leadership to start the process of separating the 5,731 active-duty members who are unvaccinated, Politico reported.
“Vaccinating our soldiers against COVID-19 is first and foremost about Army readiness,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said on Thursday.Getty Images
It is unclear how many US service members could end up being discharged. According to the various branches, at least 30,000 are not yet vaccinated, but several thousand of those have gotten temporary or permanent medical or administrative exemptions so far.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s main concern is getting as many of them vaccinated as possible.
“What he would tell these individuals if he had the chance to speak to them directly is to get the vaccine, if they are medically eligible,” Kirby said. “Get the vaccine because it’s the best way to protect themselves and their units. That’s the readiness concern — getting the vaccination rate as close to 100 percent as possible.”
With Post wires