Air Force has released 87 airmen for refusing vaccine

Lillian Ranney, 12, left, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from Rhode Island Air Force National Guard Lt. Col. Barbara Webster at a mass vaccination site at the former Citizens Bank headquarters in Cranston, R.I., Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

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Lillian Ranney, 12, left, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from Rhode Island Air Force National Guard Lt. Col. Barbara Webster at a mass vaccination site at the former Citizens Bank headquarters in Cranston, R.I., Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The U.S. Air Force has administratively separated 87 active-duty airmen for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday.

Of the Air Force’s “total force” — active-duty, National Guard and Reserve members — 95.6% were fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, the service said. Just 0.3% are partially vaccinated.

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As of Tuesday, the total force has granted 1,672 medical exemptions from taking the vaccine, along with 2,094 administrative exemptions, according to a Department of the Air Force release.

Administrative exemptions are determined on a case-by-case basis. If a member secured a commander-approved submission for separation or retirement by Nov. 1, they are administratively exempt, the Air Force noted as an example.

There were 2,158 religious exemption requests pending Tuesday, with 148 appeals. No religious accommodations have been approved, the Air Force indicated. Nearly 2,400 religious accommodation requests have been denied, as have 248 appeals.

Service members who are denied an exemption have five days to start a vaccination regimen, submit a final appeal or seek a second medical opinion, according to a Dec. 7 memo from Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.

“Service members who continue to refuse to obey a lawful order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after their exemption request/final appeal has been denied or retirement/separation has not been approved will be subject to administrative discharge,” the Air Force have said.

The Air Force is not breaking down vaccination rates by installation, an Air Force spokeswoman has told the Dayton Daily News.

There are 326,000 active-duty Air Force members, with just over 500,000 total force members.

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