The Air Force discharged 27 people for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, the air service branch’s spokeswoman confirmed.
The 27 are the first airmen to be administratively discharged for reasons related to the COVID-19 vaccine, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said on Monday, reported The Associated Press.
The Air Force announced on Sept. 3 that all active-duty service members must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 2. Meanwhile, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel had until Dec. 2. Thousands have either refused or sought an exemption, reported the news agency.
Stefanek said all 27 were in their first term of enlistment and were younger and lower-ranking personnel. None of them sought any type of exemption, whether administrative, medical, or religious, and they were thus formally removed from service for having failed to obey an order, she said.
It is also possible that some had other infractions on their records, she noted.
The Air Force does not disclose what type of discharge a service member is dealt.
Republican lawmakers are seeking to ban the Pentagon from discharging military service members in any way other than an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable condition, for those who have refused to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Air Force reported on Dec. 7 that 1,060 of its active duty members, 1,314 of its guard members, and 860 of its reserve members have refused the COVID-19 vaccine.
Religious exemption applications are being sought by 4,756 active duty members, 3,553 guard members, and 2,251 reserve members of the force.
Over 94 percent of the Air Force has been fully vaccinated; 97 percent of active duty members, 90.8 percent of the guard members, and 90.8 of reserve members.
All members of the military of all service branches have been required by the Pentagon to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with each branch having its own deadline for active duty, National Guard, and the Reserves. The deadlines for the Air Force were the earliest among the branches.
The Navy and Marine Corps previously announced deadlines of Nov. 28 and Dec. 28 for active-duty service members and reserve members, respectively.
The Army previously announced that all active-duty troops must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15 and that all other service members—National Guard and Reserve members—have until June 30, 2022, to get the vaccine.
One congressman, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), said in July that some members of the U.S. military told him they would quit if the COVID-19 vaccine were to be mandated.