NEWS & ANALYSIS

Marine Corps Issues Two First-of-a-Kind Religious Vaccine Exemptions


Nearly five months after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin declared a vaccine mandate for all active-duty military members, the Marine Corps is the first branch to grant religious exemptions. 

The Marine Corps granted two religious exemptions; however, more than 3,200 of the 3,350 requests have been denied, BizPacReview reports

A Marines spokesman told the American Military News that this is the first time in 10 years that the branch granted a religious exemption for a vaccine. 

“Due to privacy considerations, we are unable to discuss the specifics of any individual request,” Capt. Andrew Wood said. 

“All current exemption requests are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Each request will be given full consideration with respect to the facts and circumstances submitted in the request,” a Marine Corps statement released Thursday read. 

Indeed, no other branch of the military has yet granted a religious exemption, although the Navy received more than 3,700 such requests and the Army received over 2,100. The Air Force has declined more than 2,300 religious exemptions and has over 2,100 more to review.

The change of direction from military officials was likely impacted by a federal judge ruling in Texas earlier this month to grant an injunction for 35 Navy service members seeking a religious exemption.