U.S. Army Grants First Religion-Based COVID-19 Vaccine Exemption

by Taylor Cunningham

According to new data, the U.S. Army has granted its first-ever permanent religious exemption from getting a COVID-19 vaccine. The waver comes months after the Department of Defense gave deadlines for members of all military branches to comply with standing vaccine mandates. As it stands, hundreds of other requests have been denied and thousands are still pending.

At a Glance

  • The Army approved a religion-based COVID exemption for the first time since mandates began.
  • Currently, over 3,000 more requests are waiting for approval.
  • If officials deny a request, soldiers have seven days to take action before facing dischage papers.
  • Though, so far, the Army has not removed a soldier due to vaccine status.
  • The Army is the only military branch that has not discharged a service member for failing to innoculate against COVID.
  • In all branches of the military, officials have only approved 26 relious exemptions.

Thousands of Soldiers Still Waiting for Religious-Based COVID Exemption Approvals

Though the U.S. Army ordered all soldiers to be fully vaccinated three months ago, some members have refused to comply. And in some cases, the soldiers have taken the fight to court.

Currently, 3.760 soldiers have sought a religious exemption. Of those, 536 have been denied. Also, 664 soldiers asked for medical exemptions, and commanders only approved 7.

Earlier this year, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth gave active-duty troops until January 31st to either get the shot or face involuntary separation “as expeditiously as possible.”

If officials deny an exemption of any kind, soldiers have seven days to either get their first vaccination or file an appeal. If they fail to do so, commanders are supposed to begin the discharge process. But to date, the Army has not discharged a single person.

The Army is the only branch of the military that has yet to kick out soldiers over mandate refusals. Wormuth reported that only a “small number” were refusing the shot. And she expected almost all of those who have been denied exemptions to start the vaccination process.

Fox News reports that around 96% of Army members were fully vaccinated and 1% were partially vaccinated as of March 10th.

The branch is the third Pentagon service to grant an exemption due to “sincerely held religious beliefs.” But overall, only 26 active-duty troops have been approved.

The Marine Corps was the first to allow exemptions when it signed for two soldiers in January and then four more since. And the Air Force has also allowed a total of 19 religious exemptions. So far, the NAVY has denied all requests and is currently battling a court order to approve requests from 35 SEALS.