COVID Vaccine Exemption Approved for 9 Religious Reasons by US Air Force

COVID Vaccine Exemption Approved for 9 Religious Reasons by US Air Force

Tuesday, the Air Force became the second military service to give religious exemptions to the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, letting nine airmen skip the shots.

Nine of the more than 6,400 requests have been approved, and they come as other service members are going to court to challenge the lack of religious exemptions. 

The Marine Corps is the only other military service to grant religious accommodations, having given three so far. 

Neither the Army nor the Navy has provided accommodations.

Congressional members, the military, and the public question if the review processes have not been fair. In total, the services have gotten more than 14,000 religious exemption requests.

Military leaders have argued that religious exemptions for troops to get any of the many vaccines they need have been rare over the years. Military members might have to get up to 17 different vaccines, depending on where they're going.

The Navy cannot take action against 35 sailors because of their religious beliefs; a federal judge ruled last month.

The Air Force approved eight of the applications during the initial review process, and one was approved on appeal to senior Air Force leaders. More than 3,200 airmen have been denied religious exemptions, and another 3,200 are pending.

It is stated that Air Force officials determined that accommodation needs could be met without affecting mission readiness.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and military leaders say the vaccine is essential for keeping the forces healthy. 

Staff who refused the vaccination have been fired or put under strict controls.

Marine Corps: 469, Air Force: 179, Navy: 118, according to last week's data. It includes active-duty personnel and recruits still in boot camp. The Army has reprimanded more than 3,000 soldiers and fired six but has not yet discharged anyone.

Each of the military services claims exemption decisions are based not only on individual requests but also on the impact on the unit, its mission and readiness, and the health and safety of other soldiers.

If you are exempted and allowed to remain in the service, your job may be affected.

Navy and Marine Corps officials have said that unvaccinated service members aren't allowed to deploy on ships, where infections can spread more quickly. Those with medical, administrative or religious exemptions are assigned to shore duty.

At least 97% of the troops have been shot at least once in each service.