Dilemma for US navy, Marines as 19.000 refuse vaccine

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As many as 19,000 active-duty Marines and Navy sailors chose not to get vaccinated against the coronavirus by their shared Nov. 28 deadline, a dilemma for military leaders who have threatened to expel personnel refusing to comply with the Biden administration’s mandate.

In both services, the number of holdouts is around 9,500, according to official counts. And while the Marines’ margin of 5 percent unvaccinated had been anticipated, it was an unexpected outcome for the Navy, which in announcing its final tally this week acknowledged that officials had uncovered last-minute “discrepancies” with its data-tracking system that revealed a larger pool of unvaccinated sailors than had been projected.

As recently as last week, official data showed that 99.8 percent of sailors had at least one shot by last Sunday’s deadline. The true number is just over 97 percent.

These personnel now join more than 8,000 in the Air Force who declined to get vaccinated. In all three services, many are awaiting decisions on exemption requests, though officials have emphasized the number of permanent waivers granted was likely to be nominal.

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