The U.S. Army reports 96 percent of active duty personnel are completely vaccinated against COVID-19, and that commanders are currently initiating the separation process for the non-vaccinated on a case-by-case basis.
The Army also reports that out of 3,088 permanent religious exemptions requested – none have been approved, and 388 have been disapproved.
The latest update indicates there have been 3,315 refusals to the vaccine and 3,122 official reprimands issued.
Under a directive issued by Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, commanders are to initiate involuntary administrative separation proceedings against any soldier who has refused the COVID-19 vaccination order and does not have an approved or pending exemption request. The order applies to regular Army soldiers, reserve-component soldiers serving on Title 10 active-duty, and cadets.
“Army readiness depends on soldiers who are prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars,” Wormuth says. “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.”
As an exception, soldiers who will complete their separation or retirement, or begin transition leave, on or before July 1, 2022, will be granted a temporary exemption and will be permitted to complete their separations or retirements.
Unvaccinated soldiers who have requested medical exemption or religious accommodations are temporarily exempt from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement while their requests are under review.
Soldiers who receive denials of their medical exemption or religious accommodation requests will have seven calendar days from the denial to do one of the following or face separation proceedings:
- Begin a COVID-19 vaccination regimen. If a Soldier indicates intent to begin the vaccination regimen, commanders may use their discretion to adjust the timeline based on local COVID-19 vaccination supplies.
- Submit an appeal to the final appeal authority. If a final appeal is denied, the Soldier will have seven calendar days from notice of denial to begin the COVID-19 vaccination regimen.
As of January 26, Army commanders had relieved a total of six regular Army leaders – including two battalion commanders for refusing the vaccination order.