WASHINGTON (AP) — The Air Force grew to become the second military services assistance to approve religious exemptions to the obligatory COVID-19 vaccine, granting requests from nine airmen to keep away from the pictures, officers mentioned Tuesday.

The 9 accepted so considerably stand for just a little fraction of the much more than 6,400 requested by Air Power troops, and they appear as other provider members are tough the lack of spiritual exemptions in court cases. The Maritime Corps is the only other military services services to grant any religious accommodations, enabling a few so far. The Military and Navy have not approved any.

The companies have occur below criticism for their failure to grant spiritual exemptions, with users of Congress, the armed forces and the community questioning if the review procedures have been honest. All collectively, the services have acquired far more than 14,000 requests for spiritual exemptions.

Armed service leaders have argued that religious exemptions to any of the many vaccines troops are expected to get have been very scarce more than the yrs. Support users are necessary to get as quite a few as 17 unique vaccines, dependent on wherever they deploy.

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A federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction past thirty day period, halting the Navy from acting from 35 sailors for refusing on religious grounds to comply with an order to get the COVID vaccine.

8 of the Air Power approvals came in the course of the first overview procedure, and 1 was granted on charm to senior Air Force leaders. So considerably, spiritual exemption requests from additional than 3,200 airmen have been denied, and a different 3,200 are pending.

“The Department of the Air Drive determined the service members’ lodging could be supported with no influence to mission readiness,” the assertion Tuesday claimed.

Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin and military services leaders have argued that the vaccine is important to sustaining army readiness and the health of the force. And all of the solutions have now both discharged staff for refusing the vaccine, or set a program in location to do so.

The Marine Corps has discharged 469, the Air Pressure has discharged 179 and the Navy has discharged 118, according to information produced in the past 7 days. The amount incorporate active-duty personnel and entry-level recruits who were being nonetheless in boot camp. The Army has issued much more than 3,000 official letters of reprimand, and fired 6 troopers, but has not discharged any individual nonetheless.

All the military services companies have stated the exemption conclusions are centered not only on the personal request, but also on its effect on the unit, its mission and readiness, and the health and protection of other troops.

These who get an exemption and are permitted to remain in the service may, even so, see an influence on their positions.

The Navy and the Maritime Corps have explained unvaccinated provider associates are not allowed to deploy out to sea on ships, in which bacterial infections can extra simply unfold. People who have accredited exemptions — both clinical, administrative or spiritual — are assigned to shore duties.

At minimum 97% of the troops in each individual provider have gotten at least a single shot.

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