The Marine Corps’ list of consequences for Marines who fail to get vaccinated for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a reminder that USMC stands for “You Signed the Motherf—king Contract!”
Active-duty Marines have to get vaccinated by Nov. 28 and Reserve Marines must be immunized by Dec. 28, according to Marine Corps Administrative Message (MARADMIN) 612/21. For any Marines who think that these deadlines are no big deal, the MARADMIN is a rude awakening.
“Marines refusing the COVID-19 vaccination, absent an approved administrative or medical exemption, religious accommodation, or pending appeal shall be processed for administrative separation IAW (in accordance with) this MARADMIN and supporting references,” the MARADMIN says. “General Court-Martial Convening Authorities (GCMCA) retain authority to take any additional adverse administrative or disciplinary action they deem appropriate.”
According to the message, the severe consequences are because Marines who are not vaccinated by the deadlines and do not have an exemption approved or pending will have “willfully disobeyed a lawful order from a superior commissioned officer.”
As such, any Marines who refuse to get vaccinated will not deploy; they will not be allowed to reenlist; and they will not be promoted, in addition to being involuntarily separated, the MARADMIN says.
Just like the Navy’s vaccination policy, the Marine Corps has also made clear that any Marines separated for refusing to get vaccinated could end up owing the 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,” MARADMIN 612/21 says. “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.”
As of Oct. 21, a total of 83% of active-duty Marines have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and 92% were partially vaccinated, according to the Marine Corps. But only 47% of Reserve Marines were completely immunized with 58% partially vaccinated.
By way of comparison: The Department of the Air Force is reporting that 92% of active-duty airmen and Space Force Guardians and 86.5% of all airmen and Guardians are fully vaccinated; In the Navy, 93% of active-duty sailors and 78% of Reserve sailors are fully immunized while 98% of active-duty sailors and 83% of Reserve sailors have received at least one dose of the vaccine; and in the Army, 87% of active-duty soldiers and 47% of Reserve soldiers are fully vaccinated while 93% of active-duty soldiers and 51% of Reserve soldiers have had at least one dose, service officials said.
Meanwhile, 76.15% of Air National Guardsmen and 41.59% of Army National Guardsmen were fully vaccinated as of Oct. 18, said Christina Mundy, a spokeswoman for the National Guard Bureau. A total of 48.69% of Army National Guardsmen and 85.78% of Air National Guardsmen have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
If any Marines are waiting for the last minute to get vaccinated, that time is now. Marines will not be considered fully vaccinated until 14 days after their final shot, including the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said Capt. Andrew Wood.
At this point, active-duty Marines who are not vaccinated no longer have the option to take the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, per an Oct. 7 Marine Corps-wide message. That’s because the vaccines involve two shots that are 21 and 28 days apart respectively.
Under (MARADMIN) 533/21, active-duty Marines were required to get their first dose of the Moderna vaccine by Oct. 17 or the first Pfizer shot by Oct. 24. Active-duty Marines have until Nov. 14 to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the MARADMIN says. That’s just 20 days from now.
For any Marines who are still debating whether or not to get vaccinated: The clock is ticking, and time is not on your side.
UPDATE: This story was updated on Oct. 25 with information on how many Army and Air National Guardsmen are vaccinated.
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