The Marine Corps has granted two military personnel a permanent religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the first military branch to do so, the agency announced in a regular update on Thursday.
The force says it has received 3,350 requests for religious exemption from the mandate and processed 3,212 to date. The two exemptions announced on Thursday are the first for vaccines the agency has awarded in at least the last 10 years.
None of the other branches of the military have granted religious waivers for COVID-19 to date.
The Marine Corps has not provided details about the circumstances surrounding the two waivers or how they differed from the other requests it has received. A statement from Marine Corps spokesman Captain Andrew Wood cited privacy concerns in refusing to provide more details.
The Marine Corps statement explained that within Manpower and Reserve Affairs there is a three-member Council for Religious Accommodation that reviews each package and makes a recommendation to Ottignon.
“The deputy commander then personally assesses the contents of each package before making a decision,” Wood said.
While the Marine Corps was the first to grant religious waivers, it was also the most aggressive branch of troop startup to have refused the vaccine. Since December 16, the Corps has fired 351 Marines for vaccine refusals — 100 of those took place in the past week. In contrast, the navy has fired only 20 sailors so far, despite the same vaccine deadline.
© Copyright 2022 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.