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Three U.S. Air Force Academy Cadets Who Refused COVID-19 Shot Won’t be Commissioned as Military Officers


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Three graduating cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy who rejected the experimental COVID-19 shot will not be commissioned as military officers but will graduate with bachelor’s degrees, according to the academy.

In a statement released to AP, Academy spokesman Dean Miller said that the three cadets will get a degree, but “they will not be commissioned into the United States Air Force as long as they remain unvaccinated.”

Miller added that the secretary of the Air Force would determine whether to require the three cadets to reimburse the United States for education costs in lieu of service.

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He also said that a fourth cadet refused the experimental shot until about a week ago, then decided to take it and become an Air Force officer.

AP reported:

As of Saturday, the Air Force is the only military academy, so far, where cadets are not being commissioned due to vaccine refusal. All of the more than 1,000 Army cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, graduated and were commissioned as officers earlier in the day and all were vaccinated.

The Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, said Saturday that none of the Navy or Marine Corps seniors there are being prevented from commissioning due to vaccine refusals. That graduation is later this week, and the Air Force ceremony is Wednesday in Colorado. Ahead of that ceremony, the U.S. Air Force Academy Board conducted its standard review of whether this year’s class had met all graduation requirements on Friday.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is the scheduled speaker at the Air Force graduation, last year made the COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for service members, including those at the military academies, saying the vaccine is critical to maintaining military readiness and the health of the force.

Military leaders have argued that troops for decades have been required to get as many as 17 vaccines in order to maintain the health of the force, particularly those deploying overseas. Students arriving at the military academies get a regimen of shots on their first day — such as measles, mumps and rubella – if they aren’t already vaccinated. And they routinely get flu shots in the fall.

Members of Congress, the military, and the public have questioned if the exemption reviews by the military services have been fair. There have been multiple lawsuits filed against the mandate, mainly centering on the fact that very few service members have been granted religious exemptions from the shots.



 

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