By mid-September, all active-duty forces in the military will be required to get shots in their arms to counter the coronavirus as cases continue to once again increase nationwide.
“There is a religious exemption possibility for any mandatory vaccine, and there’s a process that we go through to counsel the individual both from a medical and from a command perspective about using a religious exemption,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday.
Kirby said military service members who wish to seek an exemption will be required to be counseled by a medical professional and a commander over the risks posed by not receiving the vaccine.
In addition, they will discuss how the decision could affect their deployability, travel, or even assignments – though the request processes will differ in each branch.
“We take freedom of religion and worship seriously, in the military, it’s one of the things that we sign up to defend,” Kirby said. “And so it’s something that’s done very carefully.”
Exemptions for pre-existing medical conditions will be permitted as well, though those will be identified by a medical professional.
Kirby also said that any service member who is hesitant to receive the vaccine will receive counseling on its safety and effectiveness.
From legal analyst Peggy Hall:
Peggy Hall explains that every employer, school, government agency and even the military must abide by Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination at the workplace. No one may be discriminated against as an employee of a business. Businesses are required to accommodate their employees, which she says includes the military.