The Corps will kick out every Marine who refuses the COVID-19 vaccine and fails to receive an approved exemption by the Nov. 28 deadline, a new administrative message said.
Barring an approved administrative, medical or religious accommodation, or a pending appeal, Marines who fail to meet the deadline will be processed for administrative separation, the MARADMIN said. General court-martial convening authorities will “retain authority to take any additional adverse administrative or disciplinary action” deemed appropriate.
A Marine is considered to have “refused the vaccine” when they do not have approved administrative, medical or religious accommodation, or a pending appeal, and they “received and willfully disobeyed a lawful order from a superior commissioned officer to be vaccinated against COVID-19;” the MARADMIN said.
The Marine Corps had not approved any religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, said Capt. Andrew Wood, a Marine Corps spokesman.
If a Marine does eventually opt to get vaccinated but acts too late to meet the deadline, they also are considered to have refused the vaccine.
As soon as a Marine meets the definition for refusal, the administrative separation process will start and they may receive as a low a discharge as “general under honorable” conditions, the MARADMIN states.
Marines who refuse to be vaccinated will have their promotions put on hold, will not deploy and will not be allowed to reenlist, the Corps said.
Any Marines who refuse will be barred from holding command assignments and any Marines who refuse while in a command assignment will be relieved for cause, the MARADMIN said.
Marines refusing the vaccine who had received bonuses or special duty pay may end up owing the Marine Corps money.
“Marines separated for vaccination refusal will not be eligible for involuntary separation pay and will be subject to recoupment of any unearned special or incentive pays and advance educational assistance,” the MARADMIN reads. “Marines who do not complete their service obligation for Transfer of Education Benefits will lose their eligibility to retain transferred Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and may be subject to recoupment if the Veterans Affairs has already processed a payment for transferred benefits.”
A total of 70 service members across the Department of Defense have died of COVID-19, according to the Department of Defense, a number that has seen a large increase in recent months.
At least 66 of those service members were completely unvaccinated when they died, while one had received the first dose of a two dose version of the vaccine, Military Times previously reported.
As of Oct 21, 93 percent of active duty Marines had been partially vaccinated, Wood said.
Those who have yet to comply with the order are quickly running out of options to get vaccinated.
Marines taking the Pfizer vaccine would have been required to have had their first dose by Oct. 24 and will need their second dose by Nov. 14.
Marines opting for the Moderna vaccine would have been required to have their first dose by Oct. 17 and will need their second dose no later than Nov. 14, according to previous Marine Corps administrative messages.
The only option remaining for fully unvaccinated Marines without exemptions is the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which Marines would need to take by Nov. 14 if they want their Marine Corps career to continue.