The U.S. Navy announced Wednesday that it separated 23 sailors for not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Hill reported Tuesday that 23 more active-duty sailors were discharged from the branch with "an honorable characterization of service" for not being fully vaccinated by the Nov. 28 deadline.
That brings a total of 45 sailors separated from the service due to the vaccine mandate.
Earlier this month, the branch separated 22 sailors that were characterized as "Entry Level Separations" in their first 180 days of active duty since enlisting, The Hill reported.
The Associated Press reported in December that an estimated 20,000 troops in all the military branches were in danger of being removed from the service following President Joe Biden's mandate during the summer that all troops be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Disciplinary and removal actions started in December, with 27 U.S. Air Force airmen and 103 Marines separated in December, the Associated Press reported at the time.
The U.S. Army reprimanded more than 2,700 soldiers then, and is expected to begin removing them this month, the report said.
According to The Hill, more than 5,000 Navy active-duty sailors are still unvaccinated with more than 3,200 of them seeking religious exemptions from getting the vaccine, and another 2,960 reservists are unvaccinated with 776 seeking an exemption.
To date, the Marines are the only branch allowing religious exemptions, and the Navy has approved 10 permanent and 259 temporary medical exemptions, and another 59 administrative exemptions.
The Washington Post reported in December that 94% of the Air Force complied with the mandate, and that branch was the first to discharge troops for not being vaccinated.
"We know there's some more work to do," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters during a December press briefing and said that Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin "expects 100% compliance."
Austin said in the summer that the vaccinations were a standard military protocol going back to the origin of the Continental Army, saying, "mission-critical inoculation is almost as old as the U.S. military itself," the Post reported.
GOP lawmakers were unsuccessful in legal challenges to the mandate, which accused Austin of overstepping his constitutional authority by enforcing the mandate.
Judge Stephen Friot, a district court judge appointed by former President George H.W. Bush, ruled in favor of the mandate in December, NY1 reported at the time.
"The vaccine mandate to which the governor objects is the one — in addition to the nine that already apply to all service members — intended to protect service members from the virus which has, in less than two years, killed more Americans than have been killed in action in all of the wars the United States has ever fought," Friot’s ruling in December said. "The court is required to decide the case on the basis of federal law, not common sense. But, either way, the result would be the same."
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