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4 Air Force Academy cadets might not graduate or be commissioned as army officers this month, and may very well be pressured to pay again hundreds in tuition, after they refused to get vaccinated towards the coronavirus, Air Drive officers mentioned.
The Air Drive Academy is the one army academy to date to announce penalties for a failure to get vaccinated. The Military and Navy mentioned their seniors should not being barred from this month’s commencement over their vaccination standing.
Air Drive Academy spokesman Lt. Col. Brian Maguire mentioned the commencement is 2 weeks away and that the cadets nonetheless have time to “weigh their choices.” There are additionally two juniors, one sophomore and 6 freshmen on the academy to have refused the COVID vaccine.
Final 12 months, the Pentagon introduced a vaccine mandate for service members, together with for these at army academies. Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin mentioned the vaccine is essential to the army’s well being and readiness.
“To defend this Nation, we’d like a wholesome and prepared drive,” Austin wrote in an August memo. “After cautious session with medical specialists and army management, and with the assist of the President, I’ve decided that necessary vaccination towards coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) is critical to guard the Drive and defend the American folks.”
Navy leaders have mentioned service members have lengthy been required to get plenty of different vaccines to make sure the well being of the drive. College students on the army academies who should not already vaccinated obtain a number of pictures on their first day, together with pictures for measles, mumps and Rubella, they usually get annual flu pictures within the fall.
The army’s vaccine exemption critiques have been questioned by members of Congress, the army and the general public concerning the equity of the critiques.
There have additionally been a number of lawsuits filed over opposition to the vaccine mandate, with the principle focus being the truth that only a few non secular exemptions had been granted.
The army academies have required college students to repay tuition prices beneath sure circumstances prior to now in the event that they depart throughout their junior or senior 12 months. These situations usually contain college students with disciplinary points. A last determination on compensation is made by the service secretary.
The Marine Corps, Navy, Military and Air Drive have discharged almost 4,000 lively obligation service members over their refusal to get vaccinated. Latest knowledge launched by the companies reveals that greater than 2,100 Marines, 900 sailors, 500 Military troopers and 360 airmen have been discharged. At the least 50 service members have been discharged throughout entry degree coaching.
Service members who’ve refused the vaccine with out in search of an exemption are nonetheless being discharged whereas the discharges of these concerned in lawsuits are held up amid the authorized battles.
The army has mentioned that as many as 20,000 service members have requested a spiritual exemption, and that hundreds of such purposes have been denied.
About 99% of the lively obligation Navy and 98% of the Air Drive, Marine Corps and Military have acquired no less than one dose of the vaccine.
The Related Press contributed to this report.