A federal judge has a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in favor of nine airmen who have refused to receive the coronavirus vaccine mandated by the military.
In court documents, the pilots claimed their requests for religious exemptions from COVID vaccination had been granted incorrectly.
The Texas-based First Liberty Institute and the Washington-based legal firm Schaerr Jaffe represents the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs included Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.
In the complaint, the two officials are identified as the public faces of any military employee punishing a person who refuses vaccination without a waiver. In court, the defendants have yet to answer.
"Plaintiffs have lost already-announced promotions, have suffered formal penalties, have been prevented from training opportunities, and have been placed on a no-pay position," according to the complaint.
Most plaintiffs are fighter pilots and instructors or are in the process of becoming fighter pilots.
They are among a small group of airmen and Space Force Guardians — roughly 3%, or 15,000 persons — who have chosen to forego COVID vaccinations for medical, religious, or other personal reasons.
Two plaintiffs attempted to obtain medical exemptions based on allergies, but their allergy testing was insufficient. The Air Force told Stef that the doctor he saw was "illegitimate" and had given him false test results in one case.
They assert that the Pentagon's vaccination obligation for 2021 is unworkable because millions of people can still contract COVID-19 despite receiving vaccines and vaccinations.
Approximately 17% of Americans aged five and up are still unvaccinated (vaccines are not yet approved for the youngest children), putting them at a significantly increased risk of severe disease and death.
CDC estimates that COVID-19 is twice as likely to re-infect previously-infected unvaccinated persons as it is to infect previously-infected vaccinated persons.