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U.S. Army Will Start Discharging Unvaccinated Soldiers

Commanders have been told to begin “involuntary administrative separation proceedings” against all regular Army soldiers and active-duty reservists who have refused a vaccination and do not have an approved exemption request or one still pending, according to a directive issued Wednesday by Army Secretary Christine Wormuth.

On January 27—the most recent day for which data is available—97% of active Army soldiers were at least partially vaccinated, which would make nearly 15,000 people eligible for discharge.

Temporary exemptions will be granted to soldiers who complete their separation, retirement or start transition leave by July 1.

“Army readiness depends on soldiers who are prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars,” Wormuth said in a statement. “Unvaccinated soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness.”

The Army isn’t the first military branch to begin discharging unvaccinated members—last month, the Air Force discharged 27 people for refusing to get the coronavirus vaccine, and the Navy took steps to begin the separation process for unvaccinated sailors, though a Texas judge earlier this month ruled in favor of Navy SEALS seeking a religious exemption. The Pentagon announced a vaccine mandate for the military in August, but each service has set its own deadlines.

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