us-army-grants-its-first-religious-waiver-for-coronavirus-vaccine-exemption

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The U.S. Army has granted a soldier a permanent religion-based exemption from getting the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine. 

New service data published on Friday showed the Army’s updated COVID-19 vaccination statistics and exemption requests as of March 10, 2022, including 536 disapproved religion-based exemptions and 3,760 requests. 

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There have been 2,791 refusals and 3,183 official reprimands, according to the exemption chart, and seven permanent medical exemptions have been approved. 

“To date, Army commanders have relieved a total of six Regular Army leaders, including two battalion commanders, and issued 3,183 general officer written reprimands to Regular Army Soldiers for refusing the vaccination order,” the Army’s public affairs office wrote in a release.

FORT KNOX, KY - SEPTEMBER 09: Soldiers file paperwork before being administered their COVID-19 vaccinations by Army Preventative Medical Services on September 9, 2021 in Fort Knox, Kentucky. 

FORT KNOX, KY – SEPTEMBER 09: Soldiers file paperwork before being administered their COVID-19 vaccinations by Army Preventative Medical Services on September 9, 2021 in Fort Knox, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

As of March 3, the Army has not involuntarily separated any soldiers solely for refusing the legal order to receive the vaccine. 

“As previously announced, Army officials have issued guidance for the mandatory initiation of separation for soldiers who refuse this lawful order,” the office noted. 

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The new waiver comes three months following the Army’s deadline for active troops to become fully vaccinated against the virus. 

According to Stars and Stripes, the Army is the Pentagon’s only service that has yet to remove vaccine refusers – even after Army Secretary Christine Wormuth ordered service commanders to begin the process to involuntarily separate those individuals “as expeditiously as possible.”

“Army readiness depends on Soldiers who are prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars,” she said then. “Unvaccinated Soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness. We will begin involuntary separation proceedings for Soldiers who refuse the vaccine order and are not pending a final decision on an exemption.”

According to the January order, those denied exemptions to the Army’s vaccine mandate have seven calendar days to either start a COVID-19 vaccination regimen or file an appeal to the final appeal authority. If they fail to do so, they will face separation proceedings. 

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The Army said its commanders have relieved a total of six Regular Army leaders, including two battalion commanders.

The service said Friday that 96% of the Army’s active-duty soldiers have been fully vaccinated and another 1% were partially inoculated.

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