After several tactics to encourage mass vaccination of U.S. troops, the Marine Corps has given its active duty members a strict order: refusal to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 28, 2021 will result in discharge.1
In August, the Pentagon announced mandatory COVID vaccinations for all active duty and reserve military members, including the National Guard.2 3 In October, the Pentagon announced mandatory COVID vaccinations for all civilians working for the Department of Defense.4
The Marine Administrative Message, referred to in the Marine Corps as a MARADMIN, was issued on Oct. 21 and reads:
Marines refusing the vaccination absent an approved administrative or medical exemption, religious accommodation or pending appeal, shall be processed for administrative separation.1
The MARADMIN also states that Marine officers declining to get fully vaccinated will be relieved of their command and those Marines refusing the COVID vaccine will not deploy; will have their promotions put on hold and/or not be promoted; will be involuntarily separated, and not be allowed to reenlist. Marines who are separated for refusing the COVID shot “will not be eligible for involuntary separation pay and will be subject to recoupment of any unearned special or incentive pays and advance educational assistance.”
Additionally, the MARADMIN states that Marine leaders will “retain authority to take any additional adverse administrative or disciplinary action they deem appropriate” in addition to administrative separation.
Those Marines who have not received the vaccine and are not pending exemption approval by the deadline will have “willfully disobeyed a lawful order from a superior commissioned officer.” Marines are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their final dose.1
No Religious Exemptions Have Been Approved Within Military
As of Oct. 20, no religious exemptions had been approved for the vaccine, despite Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby stating earlier this year:
We take freedom of religion and worship seriously, in the military, it’s one of the things that we sign up to defend, and so it’s something that’s done very carefully.2
Marine Corps Vaccination Rate at 83 Percent
Since the COVID vaccine became available to military members, the Marine Corps vaccination rates have been lower than other military branches. In June, the Military Times reported that the Marine Corps’ vaccination rate with at least one dose of COVID vaccine was 58 percent, while the Navy was 77 percent, the Army was 70 percent, and the Air Force was 61 percent.5
Numbers of partially or fully vaccinated Marine Corps personnel have increased significantly since the Pentagon announced the COVID vaccine requirement in August 2021.6 As of Oct. 20, the Marine Corps said 83 percent of the active force had been fully vaccinated and 92 percent partially vaccinated.1
According to Associated Press, active duty Navy personnel must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 28 and Navy Reserve by Dec. 28. By Nov. 2, the Air Force and Space Force personnel must be fully vaccinated and Reserves by Dec. 2. Army active duty soldiers must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15, 2021 and Army Reserve and National Guard by June 30, 2022.7
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Click here to view References:
1 Toropin K. Marine Corps makes it clear: get the vaccine or get out. Military.com Oct. 25, 2021.
2 Hobley N. All members of the U.S. armed forces will be required to be vaccinated for COVID. The Vaccine Reaction Aug. 16, 2021.
3 U.S. Secretary of Defense. Mandatory Coronavirus Disease Vaccinations of Dept. of Defense Service Members. U.S. Department of Defense Aug. 24, 2021.
4 Baldor LC. Pentagon mandates COVID-19 vaccine for civilian workers. Associated Press Oct. 4, 2021.
5 Myers M. The Navy is the most vaccinated against COVID-19, the Marine Corps is the least. Military Times June 30, 2021.
6 Myers M. Pentagon Announces COVID-19 vaccine mandate but no set deadline. Military Times Aug. 25, 2021.
7 Baldor LC. Pentagon mandates COVID-19 vaccine for civilian workers. Associated Press Oct. 4, 2021.