JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Marine Corps continues to be the strictest branch of the Armed Forces when it comes to discharging service members who refuse to get their vaccine.
While their restrictions are tight, the vaccination rate among Marines remains lower than the other military branches. The Marine Corps has now discharged 169 Marines who have refused to get their shot, 66 since mid-December alone. Many experts believe it’s related to some of the culture and demographics of a typical Marine.
The percentage of Marines who have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine remains at 95%, compared to 98% for the Army, Navy and Air Force. According to The Washington Post, Marines are younger than other service members, are mostly male and generally don’t have college degrees. Each of those demographics is also known to have lower vaccination rates across the country.
In a recent statement, the United States Marine Corps said, “The speed with which the disease transmits among individuals has increased risk to our Marines and the Marine Corps’ mission.” Many experts say they are concerned about how vaccine hesitancy among Marines will affect the readiness of the Corps.
Just last month, Comm. David H. Berger released a video urging Mariners to get their doses, saying, “When something bad happens around the world and the president says ‘I need to know how long it’s going to take to get Marines there,’ it’s too late then to get vaccinated.'”
He continued to say “We need every single Marine in the unit to be vaccinated. We don’t have extra Marines. We’re a pretty small force, and we have to make sure that everybody on the team is ready to go all the time. That’s our job.”
Some experts also believe vaccine hesitancy in the Marine Corps, as well as other branches of the military, may come from political or societal attitudes as well as the circulation of false facts about the vaccine. While their vaccination rate remains the lowest among the military branches, the USMC has rejected 96% of the vaccine exception requests and has refused all religious exception requests.
The Pentagon also released a statement saying the vaccine is “critical to maintaining the health and readiness of the force.” It added 1,000 troops will already be deployed to help healthcare workers among the omicron surge.