Air Force is first to face troops’ rejection of vaccine mandate as thousands avoid shots | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Air Force is first to face troops’ rejection of vaccine mandate as thousands avoid shots

Up to 12,000 Air Force personnel have rejected orders to get fully vaccinated against the coronavirus despite a Pentagon mandate and officials say it is too late for them to do so by Tuesday’s deadline, posing a first major test for military leaders whose August directive has been met with defiance among a segment of the force.

The vast majority of active-duty airmen, 96.4%, are at least partially vaccinated, according to data from the Air Force. But officials have warned that, barring an approved medical or religious exemption, those who defy lawful orders to be fully immunized are subject to punishment, including possible dismissal from the service or they could be charged in the military justice system.

The challenge now confronting Air Force leaders - how to address potential large-scale dissent in the face of a top health priority that has been deeply politicized - is a bellwether for the dilemma that’s in store across the military’s other services, which have staggered compliance deadlines ranging from the end of November to the middle of next summer and in some cases have experienced far greater resistance to President Joe Biden’s mandate.

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