Nearly half of the 10,000 active duty Air Force airmen and Space Force guardians who were not vaccinated for COVID-19 are seeking religious exemptions, and 800 verbally, according to Air Force data released Wednesday. Vaccine refused.
The Air Force and Space Force’s COVID-19 vaccination compliance deadline for active duty soldiers was Tuesday. According to data obtained by the VOA, 97% of active duty airmen and guardians have had at least one vaccine dose, with 95% being fully vaccinated.
“Our airmen need to be ready to work anytime, anywhere in the world,” Air Force Chief of Staff General CQ Brown said on Wednesday. “Getting vaccinated makes sure we’re a ready force.”
Of those unaffiliated, 4,933 are requesting religious exemptions, which the Air Force Department has 30 business days to process.
Last month, the Archbishop of the Military Services said Catholic soldiers should be able to refuse the vaccine on the grounds of conscientiousness.
“No one should be forced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if it violates the sanctity of his or her conscience,” said Timothy Broglio, Archbishop of the Military Services.
The archbishop had previously endorsed President Joe Biden’s mandatory vaccination order for US service members. While Broglio still encouraged soldiers to be vaccinated, he said the Catholic Church’s permission to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine should be overshadowed by a member’s conscientious objections to vaccines tested or obtained from laboratory replicas of abortion-derived cells. Let’s not eliminate, which is how the COVID- 19 vaccines were developed.
Katherine Kuzminsky of the Center for a New American Security told VOA last month that the archbishop was “threading a really fine needle,” adding that vaccines for chickenpox, rubella, hepatitis A and poliovirus were all “abortion-derived cell lines.” “The tests were done with . Like the trials done for Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
“The question would be: Has this person ever raised a sincere objection to a previous vaccine?” he said.
The Air Force deadline was the first of all military services, with the deadline for active duty soldiers in the Army, Navy and Marines approaching later this year. The Pentagon said on Monday that 97% of all active duty soldiers had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some discounts are given on rare occasions. These include five permanent medical exemptions granted to sailors in the Navy and 1,866 exemptions granted by the Air Force and Space Force for medical or administrative reasons, such as when a service member is months away from retiring from the force.
Data provided to the VOA from military service branches showed Tuesday that 94% of the Army, 99% of the Navy and 93% of the Marine Corps were fully or partially vaccinated.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is “delighted with the level of effort” that the military services have made to vaccinate the force, especially once the mandate is under “more lethal deltas”. came in response. Variants.”
Kirby said that while Austin is “not oblivious to the fact” that some service members are refusing the vaccine, the secretary believes that leaders of military service branches “have to follow this mandatory vaccine regime in a compassionate and professional manner.” Will continue to manage.”
Failure by some to meet vaccination deadlines leaves senior leaders with difficult choices about their fate.
Active duty soldiers are vaccinated at a much higher rate than their reserve and guard counterparts, some of which have a deadline of June 30, 2022.
About one-fifth of all US service members – hundreds of thousands of soldiers – have yet to receive a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.