US Air Force Denies Over 2,100 Religious Exemption Requests From Vaccine Requirement

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The U.S. Air Force announced Tuesday having turned down a total of 2,130 requests for a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“More than 10,000 requests from across the Total Force have been received, of which approximately 2,100 have been disapproved due to military readiness considerations,” a Tuesday statement by the service read.

The Air Force has a team of experts who make up “Religious Resolution Teams” that have been reviewing each request on an individual basis, making sure to determine “the least restrictive means possible to accommodate a sincerely held belief without putting mission accomplishment at risk.”

The Air Force reported more than a 95% vaccination rate among its members, who had until Nov. 2 to comply with the medical requirement stemming from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s late August decision to make the shot mandatory.

In early December, the service discharged 27 members for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine in the first such enforcement action from any U.S. Military branch.

The Air Force is not the only military department to take a harsh stance on religious exemption requests. The Marine Corps announced on Dec. 16 that 2,863 out of  3,144 Marines who had applied for a religious exemption had their requests denied, while the rest still waited for a decision on their cases. (RELATED: Leaked Documents Show Coast Guard’s Plan To Grill Service Members Over Religious Vaccine Exemption)

Additionally, 103 Marines had been relieved from service over a failure to comply with the vaccination requirement of the military branch.

The Department of Defense’s (DOD) staunch refusal to approve religious accommodation requests has led a group of Navy SEALs and sailors to file a lawsuit against the DOD, according to The Hill.