National Security

The Army Has Approved Just 20 Permanent Religious Vaccine Exemptions Out Of Thousands Of Requests

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The U.S. Army has approved just 20 permanent religious exemptions for its COVID-19 vaccine mandate despite having received thousands of requests, according to new data released Friday.

A total of 8,000 permanent religious exemptions have been requested among the active Army, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve, the Army said Friday. Only 20 have been approved out of the 1,465 that have been adjudicated so far.

That’s an approval rate of just over one percent. The approval rate for permanent medical exemptions isn’t much better: 34 approvals out of more than 1,000 requests adjudicated, for an approval rate of about three percent.

Ninety-six percent of active duty troops have been fully vaccinated, the Army said Friday, and 1,379 troops have been separated from active duty for refusing to get the vaccine. In total, more than 17,000 troops have refused to be vaccinated since the mandate was put into effect.

Starting July 1, members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who did not get vaccinated or receive an exemption were prohibited from taking part in federally funded drills or trainings and have not been receiving pay or retirement credit, per the orders of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Elite Military Unit Risks Mass Exodus Over Vaccine Mandate, Retired Member Says)

Some observers have raised concerns that the COVID-19 vaccine mandate may negatively impact military readiness if a significant number of troops are separated for a failure to comply.