Nearly 9,000 U.S. marines haven’t been vaccinated — with most not filing for an exemption — despite a Nov. 28 mandatory deadline, meaning they could get booted from service, Military.com reports.
As of Monday, the Marine Corps reported 5% of the force hadn’t had even one COVID-19 shot, meaning around 9,000 Marines are completely unvaccinated.
About 1,300 have temporary exemptions from receiving the vaccine, or pending religious exemption requests. Those who are only partially vaccinated could also be at risk, Military.com reports.
Capt. Andrew Wood, a Marine Corps spokesman, told the news outlet that medical tracking software shows the Marines have about 9,500 service members who aren’t fully vaccinated, a figure that would include those with exemptions and those only partially vaccinated.
Hundreds more may also have had a recently expired exemption or been vaccinated but not yet entered into the service’s tracking system, according to the Marine Corps.
In a Monday news release the Marine Corps said there had been 2,441 requests for religious accommodation over the mandate out of a force of almost 180,000.
“At this time, 1,902 have been processed and zero requests have been approved,” the statement read.
Some Marines have received other exemptions, however.
The statement noted that 316 Marines have been given temporary medical exemptions and 452 have been granted a temporary administrative exemption. The latter are typically granted for service members who plan to be out of the military in 180 days, the news outlet reported.
Fourteen service members have been granted a permanent medical exemption.
The Monday news release didn’t offer any details on how swiftly Marines not in compliance would be removed.
Wood told the news outlet no Marine has been separated using a vaccine refusal discharge code. The Corps also did not say what will happen to Marines who have had only one shot.
The service has lagged behind the other military branches in vaccinating its members.
The Air Force had 96.6% of airmen and Space Force Guardians getting two shots, while the Navy last reported 97% of active-duty sailors were fully immunized.
“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 Marine Corps, in a statement.
Marines in the reserves have until Dec. 28 to meet the deadline. The branch said 79% of the Marine Corps Reserve had received at least one dose of the vaccine.