The Marine Corps warned in a message to the force on Saturday that Marines will be kicked out if they do not get the coronavirus vaccine.
The Marine Administrative Message (MARADMIN), signed October 23 and posted to the Marine Corps’ website, said:
Marines refusing the COVID-19 vaccination, absent an approved administrative or medical exemption, religious accommodation, or pending appeal shall be processed for administrative separation [in accordance with] this MARADMIN and supporting references. General Court-Martial Convening Authorities (GCMCA) retain authority to take any additional adverse administrative or disciplinary action they deem appropriate.
The MARADMIN applies to both active duty and reservists.
Active duty Marines face a November 28 deadline to be fully vaccinated, and Marine reservists face a December 28 deadline.
The message said a Marine is considered to have “refused the vaccine” when they do not have an approved administrative, medical, or religious exemption or pending appeal and have “willfully disobeyed a lawful order from a superior commissioned officer to be vaccinated against COVID-19;” or if they will not be fully vaccinated by the deadline.
Those with pending administrative, medical, or religious exemption requests or appeals will not be considered to have “refused the vaccine” until those requests or appeals are adjudicated, the message said.
According to Military.com, as of October 20, the Marine Corps has not approved any religious exemption.
Furthermore, the message said Marines who are not fully vaccinated are not considered deployable, will not be reenlisted or promoted, and that unvaccinated Marine officers without approved or pending exemptions will be relieved of their command or be unable to assume a command assignment.
In addition, Marines separated for vaccination refusal 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.”
Medical exemptions will be re-evaluated within no more than 365 days from approval, it said.
Republican senators and lawmakers have expressed concern that the vaccine mandate is hurting morale in the military, and will lead to separations from the military that will hurt its readiness.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby responded to those concerns, raised at a press briefing by Breitbart News on Monday, saying:
Well, I would tell you that the secretary’s view is that one of the best ways to make sure that the force is able to do its job to defend the nation is to make sure that they’re protected against this virus. We would agree with people that argue that it’s a national security issue. And our view is that one of the best ways to be able to preserve our national security is to make sure that our men and women are protected against this virus, and therefore, are healthy and able to do their jobs to defend this country.
And we believe that the vast, vast majority, and the numbers are bearing that out, of our men and women understand that too and are getting the shots and are getting themselves protected so that they can also protect their families, their units, and their communities.
As of October 20, 17% of Marines were not fully vaccinated, and 8% had not received any vaccine dosages.
Kirby said, “We want to respect people’s religious beliefs in the military,” but added that the number of those requesting religious exemptions “are typically very small.”
“In general, numbers of religious exemption requests for any vaccine or medicine are typically very small. We believe that, and you’ve heard the secretary say this, the vaccines are safe, they’re effective and they are really the — one of the best ways we can preserve the readiness of the force, to make sure that our men and women are healthy and vibrant and able to do their jobs, and we believe that the vaccines allow that,” he said.