Feb 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Army begins discharging soldiers who refuse COVID vaccine

 U.S. Army soldier prepares to administer a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

A U.S. Army soldier prepares to administer a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine at a vaccination center in North Miami, Fla. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Army announced on Wednesday that it will begin discharging soldiers who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Why it matters: The order marks a significant step in enforcing the COVID vaccine requirement for military members.

Driving the news: "Unvaccinated Soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness," Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said in a statement.

  • "We will begin involuntary separation proceedings for Soldiers who refuse the vaccine order and are not pending a final decision on an exemption," Wormuth said.
  • The order applies to every regular Army soldier, active-duty reservist and cadet who does not have an approved or pending exemption request.
  • "Service members separated due to refusal of the COVID-19 vaccination order will not be eligible for involuntary separation pay," per the order.

The big picture: As of Jan. 26, the Army said it has discharged two battalion commanders and issued 3,073 general officer written reprimands to soldiers for refusing to get the vaccine.

Go deeper: Army disciplines nearly 3,000 soldiers for refusing COVID vaccine

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