US Navy discharges 240 service members for refusing Covid-19 vaccine

A hospital corpsman administers a Covid-19 vaccine aboard Naval Station Norfolk, on April 8, 2021. The US Navy said Wednesday that it has discharged 240 service members for refusing the vaccine.

By Ellie Kaufman and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

(CNN) -- The US Navy said Wednesday that it has discharged 240 service members for refusing to get the Covid-19 vaccine as required by the Pentagon's vaccine mandate.

A majority of the service members, 217, were active duty, and one was a US Navy Reserve member, according to a Navy news release. All of those service members received honorable characterizations for their discharges from service, meaning they are still eligible to receive veteran benefits.

Fewer than two dozen -- 22 of the 240 -- were discharged while still undergoing training within their first 180 days of active-duty service.

As of Wednesday, the Navy has granted 10 permanent medical exemptions, 250 temporary medical exemptions and 50 administrative exemptions to the military's Covid-19 vaccine mandate for active-duty service members, according to the release.

In the Reserves, the Navy has granted nine temporary medical exemptions and nine administrative exemptions to the mandate.

The Navy said it has received 3,348 requests for religious exemptions from active-duty service members and nearly 800 such requests from Navy Reserve members. So far, no requests for religious exemptions have been granted.

More than 8,000 Navy service members remained unvaccinated against Covid-19 as of Wednesday, according to the release.

The Navy's deadline for its active-duty members to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus was November 28, 2021. It gave Reserve Navy members until December 28, 2021, to do so.

In December, the Navy announced it would begin discharging members who refuse to get vaccinated, the same week that the Air Force said it had discharged 27 service members and the Marine Corps said it had discharged 103.

The US Army, which is the largest service, just last week announced it will begin separating soldiers from service who refuse vaccination.

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