The US Army announced on Wednesday that they will be beginning “involuntary administrative separations” for unvaccinated soldiers.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth issued a directive for the separations on January 31.
“Army readiness depends on Soldiers who are prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars,” Wormuth said in a statement. “Unvaccinated Soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness.”
Vaccines were mandated by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for all branches of the military in August.
“To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force. After careful consultation with medical experts and military leadership, and with the support of the President, I have determined that mandatory vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is necessary to protect the Force and defend the American people,” Austin said in a memo at the time.
Army soldiers had until December 15 to comply with the mandate or be subject to “administrative or non-judicial punishment,” according to an announcement in September.
A January 26 statement from the Army about their updated COVID-19 vaccination statistics reported that six regular army leaders, including two battalion commanders, and 3,073 general officers have refused to comply with the mandate.
Meanwhile, 96 percent of active-component Army troops are fully vaccinated and 79 percent of reserve component forces are fully vaccinated.
“The Army has approved six of the 709 requests for medical exemptions it received in its active component, and has approved none of the 2,910 requests for religious exemptions,” The Hill reports.
Service members who are involuntarily separated for refusing the vaccine will not be eligible for involuntary separation pay and may be subject to “recoupment of any unearned special or incentive pays,” according to the Army’s statement.
Reservists and Army National Guard members still have until June 30 to be fully vaccinated.