12,000 Members of US Air Force May Leave Service Due to Mandatory Vaccination, Reports Say
21:06 GMT 30.10.2021 (Updated: 12:45 GMT 13.04.2023)
Earlier in August, the US Department of Defense announced that vaccination against COVID-19 would become mandatory for 1.3 million people on active duty, otherwise servicemen would be penalized.
The US Air Force has become the first military branch to face mass refusal to vaccinate since it became mandatory two months ago, with around 12,000 servicemen refusing to get the shot, according to the Washington Post
As of early October, roughly 60,000 members of the Air Force were unwilling to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, 97 percent of all US servicemen have as of now received at least one shot, and 87 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
As of the last month, 94 percent of the Air Force have been vaccinated, but the rate has slowed down in recent weeks. Those who fail to meet the deadline may be dismissed or be charged by the military justice system, but the exact sanctions are unknown yet, according to Newsweek.
Kirby noted that the number of servicemen asking for religious exemptions is "very small."
On 25 August, the head of the Pentagon Lloyd Austin ordered all military personnel to vaccinate against coronavirus with at least one dose by November 2, excluding members of the National Guard and Reserve members who are instead required to provide vaccination certificates by December 2.
An exception was made only for those who go on leave with subsequent release to the reserve at the end of their service, and will no longer be physically present at their workplace in the Ministry of Defense.
29 October 2021, 03:28 GMT
Mandatory vaccination, introduced in some companies and states across the US, has faced resistance, as some employees have refused to get the vaccine. While the mandate implies suspension from work, there have been serious concerns due to the lack of qualified personnel, especially in public entities.
Following the intense controversy
in some US areas among workers and protests against the mandate, a Washington, DC district court judge ruled
to temporarily suspend dismissals of both civilian and active-duty military plaintiffs while their legal proceedings over religious exemptions to vaccines continue.