The US Army said Thursday that 98 percent of its active-duty force had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Wednesday’s deadline — leaving roughly 3,800 members who refused to be inoculated and face expulsion from the military beginning next month.
In a statement, the Army said 468,459 active-duty soldiers had received at least one dose 120 days after a vaccine mandate took effect for all American service members. The Army added that 96 percent of the active-duty force — or 461,209 soldiers — have been fully vaccinated.
The Army, which has about 478,000 active-duty personnel, has the second-highest vaccination rate among military branches.
The Navy has the highest rate, with more than 98 percent getting at least one vaccine shot, followed by the Air Force (97.5 percent) and the Marine Corps (95 percent).
The Army had the latest vaccination deadline for vaccinations. The Air Force deadline was Nov. 2, while the Navy and Marine Corps had until Nov. 28.
“Vaccinating our Soldiers against COVID-19 is first and foremost about Army readiness,” Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said in a statement.
“Thank you to the medical staff who have been supporting the pandemic response at home and to the vaccinated Soldiers who put the health and welfare of their fellow Soldiers and families first,” she continued.
Wormuth “strongly encouraged” those who have yet to get the shot to get vaccinated and threatened to “begin involuntary separation proceedings” if they did not.
That process will begin in January for soldiers who either have an approved exemption or are awaiting one.
So far, Army officials have relieved six active-duty commanders and issued 2,767 written reprimands to soldiers refusing the vaccine order.
The service is still processing thousands of exemption requests, and more than 6,200 soldiers have currently received temporary medical or administrative exemptions. No exemptions have yet been issued for religious accommodations.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the vaccination mandate for all service branches in August, saying the country needs “a healthy and ready force.”
With Post wires