Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson / Ministry of Defense via AP
Soldiers from the U.S. Army who refuse to be vaccinated for COVID-19 will soon be discharged, the military department announced Wednesday.
said the army it will “immediately begin to separate soldiers from the service” who refuse to be vaccinated or who do not have an approved or pending request for exemption.
“Army readiness depends on soldiers who are ready to train, deploy, fight and win the wars of our nation,” said Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. “Unvaccinated soldiers pose a risk to the force and endanger emergency preparedness.”
Soldiers who are discharged for refusing to be vaccinated “will not be eligible for involuntary separation pay” and may have to return any unearned special pay or incentive pay, the Army said.
From January 26, it said, 96% of the active troops have been completely vaccinated, while 3,350 soldiers have refused to receive the vaccine. Nearly 5,900 have been granted temporary exemptions.
Those who have requested a medical dispensation or religious accommodations are temporarily exempt from the vaccination requirement while their requests are reviewed.
“To date, Army commanders have replaced a total of six regular army commanders, including two battalion commanders, and issued 3,073 officers general written reprimands to soldiers for rejecting the vaccination order,” the army said late last month.
The Pentagon began demanding that members of the military be vaccinated last summer.
This story originally appeared on that Morning edition live blog.