US Air Force dismisses 27 members for refusing Covid vaccines

The US military routinely requires serving members to have vaccines and considers shots for Covid an essential part being job-ready

Jade Bremner
Tuesday 14 December 2021 15:06 GMT
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The US military has dismissed the first batch of service members who have refused to get vaccinated, including 27 members of the US Air Force.

Around 96 per cent of those on active duty have so far taken at least one dose of the vaccine, with roughly 74 per of the Air Force cent fully vaccinated.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek has said that none of those dismissed sought medical, administrative or religious exemptions.

The US’ 2.1m active military members are required by the Pentagon to get vaccinated or face a range of consequences. The US Air Force had a vaccination deadline of 2 November, while the Navy and Marines had a deadline of 28 November. Army active-duty soldiers have until Wednesday to get the shot.

Vaccination levels vary between military branches, but vaccine holdouts across the board total 40,000 members. For some this is a political choice – and for an institution that has been historically apolitical, and follows a strict chain of command, it’s a troubling situation. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said he expects 100 per cent compliance.

The US military routinely requires serving members to have vaccines and the Defence Department considers shots for Covid an essential part of being job-ready, and maintaining the health of the force.

“We know there’s some more work to do,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the beginning of December.

With the emergence of the omicron variant, everyone over the age of 16 is eligible for a booster shot in the US. The Pentagon is considering mandating booster shots for troops.

There are now 159 omicron cases across 30 US states, with around 120,000 new total coronavirus cases recorded daily. Roughly one in 100 Americans over the age of 65 years old has died of Covid-19.

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