WASHINGTON – The Air Drive turned the second army service to approve spiritual exemptions to the necessary COVID-19 vaccine, granting requests from 9 airmen to keep away from the photographs, officers stated Tuesday.
The 9 authorized to date symbolize only a tiny fraction of the greater than 6,400 requested by Air Drive troops, and so they come as different service members are difficult the shortage of non secular exemptions in courtroom circumstances. The Marine Corps is the one different army service to grant any spiritual lodging, permitting three to date. The Military and Navy haven’t authorized any.
The providers have come beneath criticism for his or her failure to grant spiritual exemptions, with members of Congress, the army and the general public questioning if the assessment processes have been honest. All collectively, the providers have obtained greater than 14,000 requests for spiritual exemptions.
Navy leaders have argued that spiritual exemptions to any of the numerous vaccines troops are required to get have been very uncommon through the years. Service members are required to get as many as 17 totally different vaccines, relying on the place they deploy.
A federal choose in Texas granted a preliminary injunction final month, stopping the Navy from performing towards 35 sailors for refusing on spiritual grounds to adjust to an order to get the COVID vaccine.
Eight of the Air Drive approvals got here throughout the preliminary assessment course of, and one was granted on attraction to senior Air Drive leaders. Thus far, spiritual exemption requests from greater than 3,200 airmen have been denied, and one other 3,200 are pending.
“The Division of the Air Drive decided the service members’ lodging could possibly be supported with no influence to mission readiness,” the assertion Tuesday stated.
Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin and army leaders have argued that the vaccine is important to sustaining army readiness and the well being of the power. And all the providers have now both discharged personnel for refusing the vaccine, or put a system in place to take action.
The Marine Corps has discharged 469, the Air Drive has discharged 179 and the Navy has discharged 118, in keeping with information launched within the final week. The quantity embody active-duty personnel and entry-level recruits who have been nonetheless in boot camp. The Military has issued greater than 3,000 formal letters of reprimand, and fired six troopers, however has not discharged anybody but.
All of the army providers have stated the exemption choices are based mostly not solely on the person request, but in addition on its influence on the unit, its mission and readiness, and the well being and security of different troops.
Those that get an exemption and are allowed to remain within the service could, nevertheless, see an influence on their jobs.
The Navy and the Marine Corps have stated unvaccinated service members are usually not allowed to deploy out to sea on ships, the place infections can extra simply unfold. Those that have authorized exemptions — both medical, administrative or spiritual — are assigned to shore duties.
At the very least 97% of the troops in every service have gotten not less than one shot.
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