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Navy discharges 45 sailors over refusing COVID-19 vaccine

Navy discharges 45 sailors over refusing COVID-19 vaccine
The U.S. Navy said Thursday that 45 sailors have been discharged for not being vaccinated against COVID-19. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy said it has discharged 45 service members who refused to be inoculated against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The service members were kicked out after failing to be fully vaccinated by the Nov. 28 deadline under a policy that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced in August.

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The Navy said in a statement Wednesday that of those discharged, 23 were active-duty sailors and another 22 were considered entry-level separations as they occurred during the initial training periods within their first 180 days of active service.

"It is my responsibility to deliver the most capable force and this guidance helps us maximize mission readiness," Vice Adm. Bill Merz, the deputy chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy, said in a statement. "The Navy continues to execute its mission around the world while we work through the challenges of this pandemic."

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"Vaccinations, vaccine boosters, command engagement and personal accountability are the foundation of our success in fighting COVID-19," he added.

As of Thursday, there were still 5,035 active-duty sailors and 2,860 reserve service members who were unvaccinated, it said.

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Of unvaccinated active-duty sailors, 10 have permanent medical exemptions and 259 have temporary medical exemptions with 59 administrative exemptions awarded.

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Not a single religious accommodation was granted to any of the 3,258 active-duty quests, it said.

Concerning the reserves, there were seven temporary medical exemptions, 24 administrative exemptions and zero permanent medical or religious exemptions.

In mid-November, the Navy said 95% of its active-duty force was fully vaccinated with 99% of all service members having received at least one shot.

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The Air Force last month announced it had removed 27 people from its ranks who failed to be vaccinated by its Dec. 2 deadline.

In total, it has administratively separated 111 active duty airmen over the vaccine requirement.

The Air Force said that as of Monday, 97.5% of its active-duty personnel was fully vaccinated with another 0.2% being partially vaccinated.

According to figures from the Pentagon, 350,452 service members have contracted the virus amid the pandemic, including 91 who died.

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