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Over 7,000 Marines Unvaccinated as COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Deadline Hits

December 1, 2021

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Five percent of active-duty Marines have not gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, the military branch says.

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate was Nov. 28.

Some 95 percent of active-duty Marines had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by the deadline but that leaves nearly 7,400 who have not gotten a jab.

“I have great appreciation for all those who made these vaccinations possible, including the civilian and Navy medical personnel who worked tirelessly over the past months to protect our Marines and families,” said Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marines, in a statement.

Of the unvaccinated, 452 have been granted a temporary administrative exemption, 316 have been granted a temporary medical exemption, and 14 have been granted a permanent medical exemption, according to the Marines.

The remaining members without a jab face being discharged if they aren’t granted an exemption. Sean Timmons, a managing partner at Tully Rinckey, says none of his clients are yet to face an initiation of separation, though they are being threatened with it verbally.

Like every other military branch to date, the Marines have approved zero religious accommodation requests. Some 2,441 such requests have been lodged, and

Zero religious accommodation requests have been approved. Over three-quarters of the 2,441 requests have been rejected.

“It looks extremely concerning. It’s also problematic,” Timmons told The Epoch Times, adding that members who are separated after their religious exemption requests are turned down will likely have a strong case in court.

Lawyers representing military members fighting the mandates say the Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires military branches to provide accommodation for religious practices, including, generally, from vaccine requirements.

But military branches informed a court earlier this month that no exemptions have been granted and none have yet signaled that’s changed.

Some chaplains in Camp Pendleton cleared some of the applications as legitimate but those applications are sitting in Washington without being acted on, Timmons said.

He described Marines and other military members who are refusing the order to get vaccinated as a cross-section that includes all races and socioeconomic backgrounds.

A Marines spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Marines have said the religious exemption process starts with an interview with a chaplain and an endorsement by the first general officer in the chain of command before being evaluated by a Religious Accommodation Review Board. Requests that are cleared that far are forwarded to a centralized authority for approval or rejection.

The mandate deadline for the Navy was also on Nov. 28, but the branch has not released vaccination numbers and declined to provide them by press time. The Marine Reserve and the Navy Reserve have until Dec. 28 to get vaccinated.

The Air Force had the earliest deadline, Nov. 2. Over 10,000 active-duty personnel, or 3.1 percent, had not been vaccinated by the deadline.

The Army deadline is Dec. 15 for active-duty members. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members have until Dec. 2 while Army and Army National Guard units have until June 30, 2022.

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