103 Marines kicked out of service for refusing to get COVID-19 vaccine

Muri Assuncao
New York Daily News (TNS)
U.S. Marine Corps honor guards hold folded U.S. flags as they arrive at the funeral of Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Vincent J. Bell Dec. 27, 2011 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. On Thursday (Dec. 16, 2021), it was announced that 103 Marines were relieved of their duties after refusing to get vaccinated. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

More than 100 Marines have been kicked out of the service for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

On Thursday, the Marine Corps announced that it had discharged 103 of its members over refusal to get the vaccine, as outlined in a guidance released in October.

“In accordance with direction on COVID-19 vaccination from the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Navy, a fully vaccinated force is a matter of operational readiness and good order and discipline,” the guidance, published on Oct. 23, read.

Active-duty Marines had until Nov. 28 to receive a vaccine or apply for an exemption.

Maj. Jim Stenger, a Marine Corps spokesperson, said that service members were separated with the “vaccine refusal” discharge code, according to the Marine Corps Times.

Marines discharged for refusing the vaccine will receive either an honorable or general discharge, according to provisions in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.

“A Marine is considered to have ‘refused the vaccine’ when they do not have an approved administrative or medical exemption, religious accommodation, or pending (an) appeal,” according to the guidance.

Around 95% of active-duty personnel have already been partially vaccinated, while 94% of them have been fully vaccinated, Stenger said.

The Corps has already approved 1,007 exemptions — for either medical or administrative reasons. Of a total of 3,144 service members who applied for a religious extension, 2,863 have already been processed, but none have been approved.

Earlier this week, the Air Force announced that it had discharged 27 people for not getting vaccinated. None of them applied for any type of exemption, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Monday, according to The Associated Press.

On Thursday, the United States Army announced that 468,459 active-component soldiers had gotten their vaccine — representing 98% of the active-duty force with at least one dose of the vaccine, and 96% who are fully vaccinated.

To date, Army commanders have relieved a total of six active-duty leaders, including two battalion commanders, and issued 2,767 written reprimands to soldiers for refusing the vaccination order.