Air Force Discharges 27 Active-Duty Members Who Refused Vaccine

By Jason Hall

December 14, 2021

Patriotic American Soldier
Photo: Getty Images

The United States Air Force has discharged 27 active-duty members who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine in adherence with requirements for military members, a spokesperson for the branch confirmed to NBC News on Monday (December 13).

The Pentagon enforced a vaccine mandate for all military members, which included a November 2 deadline for all active-duty Air Force members, while other branches had varying dates set in adherence with the ruling.

Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said the 27 individuals who were discharged failed to obey a lawful order and zero had exemptions for why they were unvaccinated.

The 27 individuals are the first active-duty service members to be discharged in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine military mandate and all were in their first enlistments, having served less than six years within the branch, Stefanek confirmed to NBC News.

The Air Force and Space Force implemented the earliest deadlines for vaccine mandates to be met among U.S. military branches.

Stefanek confirmed the vaccine mandate was at least one factor in all 27 discharges, while misconduct may have also been a contributor in some cases as well.

The branch has seen a total of more than 1,8000 administrative discharges in 2021, according to Stefanek.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin initially announced a vaccine mandate for all military members in August, calling the vaccine necessary to protect troops and the country.

As of December 7, about 97% of active-duty Air Force and Space Force members were reported to be vaccinated, according to data obtained by NBC News via the Department of the Air Force, which also includes the Space Force.

NBC News reports more than 1,000 active-duty members from the Air Force and Space Force were listed as having refused the vaccine, while about 4,700 made request for exemption based on religious views, which are reportedly in the process of being denied.

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