Coronavirus: Air Force discharges 27 for refusing to get COVID vaccine

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force announced it discharged 27 people for refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

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Officials believe it is the first instance of U.S. service members being removed for disobeying a mandate to be vaccinated.

The Air Force gave its forces until Nov. 2 to get the vaccine, the AP reported. Thousands of personnel either refused a COVID-19 shot or sought an exemption.

Members of the Navy and the Marine Corps had until Nov. 28 to be vaccinated, and their reserve members have until Dec. 28, Stars and Stripes reported. Army active-duty soldiers have until Wednesday to receive a shot, and members of the Army National Guard and the Reserves have the most time to be vaccinated, with a deadline of June 30, 2022, the newspaper reported.

Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said Monday that these are the first Air Force members to be administratively discharged for reasons involving the vaccine, according to the AP.

Stefanek said the service personnel discharged were in their first term of enlistment. She added that none of the 27 members sought any kind of exemption, whether it was religious, medical or administrative, the AP reported.

According to the latest Air Force data, more than 1,000 airmen have refused the shot and more than 4,700 are seeking a religious exemption, Stars and Stripes reported. As of last week, slightly more than 97% of the Air Force’s active-duty members had received at least one shot.

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