Thousands of active-duty Marines will miss the Marine Corps and Navy’s November 28 deadline to be fully-vaccinated, as ordered by the Biden Administration’s military vaccine mandate, according to reports.
About 91 percent of active-duty Marines and 66 percent of Marine reservists are fully-vaccinated as of last Wednesday, according to the Marine Corps.
That still leaves as many as 10,000 active-duty Marines not fully vaccinated, according to the Washington Post, which the paper said was the U.S. military’s “worst immunization rate” and characterized as a “vexing outcome.”
The thousands of Marines will join almost 10,000 Air Force personnel who did not comply with the vaccine mandate by the deadline.
There will likely be thousands more not-complying, with the Army’s deadline looming on December 15.
The non-compliance poses a challenge to the Biden administration — which has threatened consequences, including separation from the military, for service members who do not comply with the mandate.
The Biden Administration has even opposed taking dishonorable discharges off the table for service members who do not comply.
But the resistance may stiffen.
Last week, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) ordered Oklahoma National Guard members to ignore the Pentagon’s mandate when not on federal missions and more governors may take similar steps.
Oklahoma’s Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has called on Biden’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to suspend the Pentagon’s “politically motivated” vaccinate mandate, saying it would hurt readiness and morale.
“This haphazardly implemented and politically motivated vaccine mandate must be immediately suspended or risk irrevocable damage to our national security reminiscent of sequestration,” he said, referring to defense cuts that happened during the Obama administration.
He also slammed separation from the military as a punishment for not complying with the vaccine mandate:
Plainly stated, no service member, Department of Defense civilian or contractor supporting the Department should be dismissed due to failure to comply with the mandate until the ramifications of mass dismissal are known. With an ever shrinking candidate pool, hastily executed policies such as this work to further diminish the ability of the Department to tap into the finite resource of people critical to national security.
The Marine Corps issued a warning last month that Marines who do not comply would be kicked out.
A number of Marines have applied for religious accommodation from the vaccine mandate, but the service has said it will not release any numbers until the deadline has passed.
According to a number of reports and statements from the services themselves, no service has granted any service member religious exemption from the vaccine mandate.
Earlier this month, Breitbart News reported exclusively that the Marine Corps has been using the same form letter to deny all requests for religious accommodation from the vaccine mandate, despite a legal requirement to consider each request individually.
Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro told reporters last week that Marines would not be kicked out “on the day of the deadline itself,” according to Task & Purpose.
The Pentagon has argued that members need to be ready to deploy, which includes being vaccinated against COVID-19.
At the same time, members of the military skew younger and healthier than the general population and in general do not appear to suffer as severely from a COVID-19 infection.
An October 2021 Association of Military Surgeons of the United States article said the number of cases of COVID among civilian and military populations of the same size are not expected to differ dramatically, but that the severity in terms of ICU burdens and deaths is “substantially lower” for the military population.