Navy discharges 23 active-duty sailors for refusing COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Navy announced Tuesday that it had discharged 23 active-duty sailors who refused to take the coronavirus vaccine.

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The discharge marks the first time that the branch has dismissed currently serving sailors over a refusal to get a mandatory shot, according to The Associated Press. The sailors all received honorable discharges.

As of last week, the Marine Corps had discharged 334 Marines, and the Air Force had discharged 111 airmen for refusing to get the shots.

The Army has not discharged any member for refusing the vaccine.

In August, Lloyd Austin, the secretary of defense, ordered active duty, National Guard and reserves to be vaccinated.

Service members can opt to refuse the vaccine on medical or religious reasons. Military officials say they are reviewing each request. The reviews require counseling with medical personnel and chaplains as well as senior commanders.

The Air Force and Navy have also discharged entry-level service members going through their boot camps, who hadn’t yet reported to their service jobs, the AP reported. Twenty-two Navy and 37 Air Force recruits have been sent home.