On Tuesday, the Marine Corps announced that it has discharged more troops for refusing the Covid-19 vaccine. The total number of vaccine-related discharges has risen to 206, with 37 in the past week and 66 the week before.

“The speed with which the disease transmits among individuals has increased risk to our Marines and the Marine Corps’ mission,” the Marine Corps said in a statement.

The active duty Marine force had a deadline of Nov. 28 to become fully vaccinated or to apply for an exemption.

So far, 95% of all active-duty Marines have received at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. 86% of the Reserve force has received the first dose.

The Marine Corps has reportedly granted 1,007 administrative or medical exemptions from the vaccine. To date, it has also reportedly received 3,247 requests for religious accommodation to refuse the vaccine. Of the religious exemption requests, 3,115 have been processed and all have been denied. This denial is not new, however: the Marine Corps has reportedly denied all requests for religious exemptions to vaccines in the last 10 years.

The Marine vaccination rate is the lowest among the U.S. military forces. In other forces, 96% of the Air Force and Space Force are vaccinated, 98% of the Army’s active-duty force has had at least one dose of the vaccine and 99% of Navy sailors have had the first dose.

The Air Force and Space Force received over 10,000 religious exemption requests, and disapproved 2,100 of them.

President Joe Biden signed the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act on Monday. According to the act, the U.S. military services cannot dishonorably discharge members for vaccine refusal. Instead, discharges for vaccine refusal must be honorable or general under honorable conditions.

The Air Force has discharged 27 airmen for vaccine refusal. The Army and Navy are waiting until Jan. to discharge soldiers and sailors who refuse the vaccine past the deadline.

If the Marine vaccination rate remains at 95%, the Corps may discharge approximately 8,000 Marines.

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