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U.S. Army says 98% of troops received COVID-19 vaccine; Marines expel 103 members

By Megan Hadley & Danielle Haynes
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks to reporters at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., on September 1. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/56f0f2d28575f5bed4e1ddf1c8eaeaff/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks to reporters at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va., on September 1. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. military announced Thursday that the vast majority of service members in the Army and Marines have received the COVID-19 vaccine in time for a federal deadline this week.

The Army said more than 468,000 troops have received at least the first dose. Officials said 96%, about 461,000, are fully vaccinated.

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The Army also said that about 3,800 active duty troops refused to receive the vaccine, and are in the process of being expelled.

"Vaccinating our soldiers against COVID-19 is first and foremost about Army readiness," Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said in a statement.

"To those who continue to refuse the vaccine, I strongly encourage you to get the vaccine. If not, we will begin involuntary separation proceedings."

The federal deadline for active Army troops to receive at least one dose was Wednesday. It was the latest deadline for all the U.S. military branches.

The Marines announced Thursday that it expelled 103 service members for refusing to receive the vaccine. Ninety-five percent of all service members in the branch have been vaccinated.

The U.S. Navy said earlier this week that it's beginning to remove about 5,700 sailors who refused the vaccine. The U.S. Air Force said on Monday that it's removed more than two dozen airmen who refused.

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The Army said it's still processing exemption requests, which are medical, religious and administrative in nature.

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Marine One, carrying President Joe Biden, departs from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday, to travel to South Carolina State University's fall commencement ceremony. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

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