27 US Air Force personnel removed for refusing to take COVID-19 vaccine
According to the latest Air Force data, more than 1,000 airmen have refused the shot and more than 4,700 are seeking a religious exemption
Twenty-seven US Air Force personnel were discharged from duty for refusing to take COVID-19 vaccine, reportedly making them the first from the service community to be booted out for disobeying the mandate to get the jabs.
The air force had given November 2 deadline for its members to get vaccinated. In October, the US air force had warned that those defying the mandatory vaccine order would not only be discharged from service, but would also be barred from receiving any benefits and would not be considered for re-enlistment.
Air force’s spokeswoman Ann Stefanek on Monday said that these were the first airmen— all younger and lower-ranking personnel—to be administratively discharged for reasons involving the vaccine.
According to the latest Air Force data, more than 1,000 airmen have refused the shot and more than 4,700 are seeking a religious exemption. As of last week, a bit more than 97 per cent of the active-duty Air Force had gotten at least one shot, reports news agency AP.
But none of the 27 airmen sought any type of exemption, medical, administrative or religious, Stefanek said.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon made the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all members of the military, including active duty, National Guard and the Reserves. Each of the services set its own deadlines and procedures for the mandate, and the Air Force set the earliest deadline.
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said the vaccine is critical to maintaining the health of the force and its ability to respond to a national security crisis.
As of December 10, 96.4 per cent of active-duty personnel had gotten at least one shot, the Pentagon said. The number declined to about 74 per cent, however, when the Guard and Reserve are included.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 72 per cent of the US population 18 and older have gotten at least one shot.
(With inputs from agencies)