Over 10,000 members of the United States Air Force have refused to go along with President Biden’s demand to be vaccinated, according to a brand new report.
The Washington Post report estimates that around 12,000 personnel will not get vaccinated by the time Tuesday’s deadline comes around. Although members of every branch are being ordered to get vaccinated, the Air Force is the one branch with the closest deadline. Those not vaccinated could be separated from the service.
The Post report would not go into the numbers but said that 96 percent of what it said to be “active duty airmen” have at least been partially vaccinated.
The Air Force has about 324,000 active-duty airmen.
Although Ann Stefanek, a spokeswoman for the Air Force, said details will get released soon, it was unclear how many Air Force members have refused to take the vaccine, how many are looking for exemptions and how many got vaccinated and could just be leaving the service anyway.
Stefanek said that members who have an approved exit in progress and will leave the service by April 1 are not being required to get vaccinated.
The impact of people being dismissed will depend on their rank and positions. For example, the impact is larger if maintenance crew or pilots are dismissed than if administrative members are the ones impacted.
“The fact that it is a choice causing potential loss to readiness is telling,” said Katherine Kuzminski, a military policy expert inside the Center for a New American Security.
The Post report said vaccination rates inside the Air Force have went down recently, and that anyone who had not already started cannot achieve full compliance by Tuesday.
Requests for vaccine exemptions are scrutinized through the chain of command, with those wanting religious exemptions being forced to meet a chaplain, Stefanek said.
Exemptions that would otherwise get approved might be rejected if the Air Force leadership believes that having an unvaccinated person within a unit could negatively harm performance.
All together, there are more than 2.1 million service members who are being forced to get vaccinated, with some deadlines not arriving until next summer.
Author: Steven Sinclaire