WASHINGTON (AP) — The Army said Wednesday it will immediately begin discharging soldiers who have refused to get the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, putting more than 3,300 service members at risk of being thrown out soon.
The Army’s announcement makes it the final military service to lay out its discharge policy for vaccine refusers. The Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy have already discharged active-duty troops or entry-level personnel at boot camps for refusing the shots. So far, the Army has not discharged any.
According to data released by the Army last week, more than 3,300 soldiers have refused to get the vaccine. The Army has said that more than 3,000 soldiers have been issued official written reprimands, which suggests they are already identified in the disciplinary process, and some of them could be among the first to be discharged.
The Pentagon has ordered all service members — active-duty, National Guard and Reserves — to get the vaccine, saying it is critical to maintaining the health and readiness of the force. COVID-19 cases continue to surge around the country as a result of the omicron variant.
Roughly 97% of all Army soldiers have gotten at least one shot. More than 3,000 have requested medical or religious exemptions.