The Army of the United States Wednesday announced it would start discharging soldiers who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. As of January 26, 96% of the military were fully vaccinated, while 3,350 had refused to take any injection.
Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth issued the order to immediately begin separating Soldiers from the service if they have not taken any COVID-19 jab, it was reported.
Wormuth's mandate applies to regular Army soldiers, reserve-component soldiers serving on Title 10 active-duty and cadets who do not have an approved or pending vaccine exemption request.
About 5,900 army personnel have received a temporary exemption for medical or religious reasons. Those whose cases have not yet been reviewed shall be excluded from Wormuth's order until their requests are studied.
“Army readiness depends on Soldiers who are prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars,” Wormuth said in a statement. “Unvaccinated Soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness. We will begin involuntary separation proceedings for Soldiers who refuse the vaccine order and are not pending a final decision on an exemption.”
Those who are discharged for refusing to get vaccinated will not be eligible for involuntary separation pay and may be subject to recoupment of any unearned special or incentive pays, according to Army sources.
Six high-ranking officers -- including two battalion commanders -- had been removed from their posts for refusing to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The army has issued written reprimands to 3,073 soldiers who have also refused to get vaccinated.
The US Navy, which has been particularly sensitive to the pandemic because of the risk that a single COVID-19 case could pose to an entire ship or submarine at sea, announced in mid-October that personnel who declined vaccination against Covid-19 would be expelled from the force.
In a press release Wednesday, the Navy said that about 8,000 active duty and reserve service members remained unvaccinated, and that to date, 118 people had been dismissed for refusing the vaccine. The Marine Corps previously said it had discharged more than 300.
Around 97 percent of the approximately 1.4 million active-duty US military personnel have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to the Pentagon.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin mandated in August that all soldiers, both active duty and reserve, be vaccinated in compliance with President Joe Biden's order in that regard. Still, Austin allowed each branch of the military to set its own timelines.