As the deadline approaches for active sailors and Marines to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the US Navy is approaching 100% compliance, with fewer than 70 sailors yet to receive a dose.
According to data provided by the Navy on Wednesday, 97% of the service’s approximately 343,000 sailors have been fully vaccinated, while a further 2.8% have received at least one dose. Six sailors have been granted permanent medical exemptions and none have been exempted for religious reasons.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps faces an uphill battle to meet the November 28 deadline set by Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro: By Wednesday, 94% of Marines had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 91% were fully vaccinated — the lowest rates from any of the Department of Defense service departments.
That means about 10,800 Marines have either ignored the deadline or are seeking waivers.
The force has not released data on religious or medical waivers, but a spokesman said on Wednesday that all requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
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“Any request will be fully considered with respect to the facts and circumstances presented in the request,” said a statement from Captain Andrew Wood, a communications strategy officer for the Marine Corps Headquarters.
The Air Force and Space Force faced the earliest deadline of all departments – November 2. By Wednesday, 97.1% of all pilots and Guardians had received at least one dose — 600 more than in the days immediately following the deadline.
According to the Air Force, 7,874 members have still not been vaccinated, including 4,756 who have applied for a religious exemption, 1,993 who “have not started the series” or whose vaccinations are well documented, and 1,125 who have simply refused to receive the injections.
Air Force officials have said those who refuse to comply with the mandate will face counseling and disciplinary action for failing to obey a legal order. The Air Force has already taken action against 40 base and military trainees who refused the shot and fired them from service.
On Monday, the agency added a new restriction to its vaccine refusers: not to give them orders for new assignments.
According to what appeared to be a memo released Tuesday by Lieutenant General Brian Kelly, the deputy chief of staff for the Manpower, Personnel and Services Department, and posted to Facebook, aviators who have been denied the vaccine, as well as those awaiting a decision. on waiver requests, will not receive permanent change of station orders from November 29.
“This restriction will remain in effect until the member is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or receives an approved medical clearance or religious accommodation,” Kelly wrote.
Only those unvaccinated and partially vaccinated employees who have already left their base or shipped their household goods or vehicles before November 29 will be allowed to proceed to their next workstation.
According to the Air Force, the new policy will last for a year.
Soldiers have several weeks before being fully vaccinated, though they would have had to complete the two-shot series by Nov. 24 to be considered fully immunized by the Army’s Dec. 8 deadline.
Army officials said on Wednesday that by Nov. 19, 95% of active-duty soldiers had received at least one dose, including 92% fully vaccinated.
The agency has approved two permanent medical waivers and no religious waivers, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Terence Kelley told Military.com.
The army command said last week that soldiers who refuse the vaccine may remain in service under certain circumstances, but that they will be barred from re-enrolment, promotion and school opportunities.
In a memo to the force, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said that soldiers would not be discharged from service, but that their records would be “flagged,” indicating that they are non-promotable.
Navy officials have said they will segregate any sailors who refuse the vaccines and have no exemption. But Del Toro said last week that everyone will be advised and given a chance to comply before being forced out of the military.
“We’re going to… give them the chance to change their mind,” he said during a conversation with reporters.
According to the Defense Department, there were 253,989 cases of COVID-19 among U.S. military personnel and 75 deaths on Wednesday.
The Coast Guard, with 40,487 members, is part of the Department of Homeland Security. As of this week, nearly 94% of the service’s active duty had been fully vaccinated and 95% had received at least one dose, meaning about 2,000 members still have to get their immunizations or a waiver.
— Patricia Kime can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.
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