Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., told Newsmax Friday that military personnel should be able to get exemptions to President Joe Biden's COVID vaccination mandate after 27 Air Force and 103 Marines were kicked out of the service for not being vaccinated.
"I think it's unfortunate that we have vaccine mandates when people have a legitimate reason not to have the vaccine for medical reasons and other reasons, and that we should have exemptions and waivers for that, like we do with so many other issues involving the military," Tenney said during "Greg Kelly Reports" Friday.
"I don't really think that you can argue this is a readiness issue when people who served in the Marines tend to be younger, and they tend to be one of the least vulnerable populations when it comes to the vaccine."
The Pentagon mandated the vaccines for all military service personnel in August, after the Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, CNN reported.
"After careful consultation with medical experts and military leadership, and with the support of the president, I have determined that mandatory vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19] is necessary to protect the force and defend the American people," CNN reported Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin wrote in a memo released at the time. "To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force."
While the mandate was supposed to take effect immediately, the deadlines to get vaccinated before action would be taken against those who chose not to get one of the three available shots was pushed back until recently.
On Dec. 14, The Washington Post reported 27 Air Force personnel were separated from the service for not getting vaccinated, in the first instance of removals since the military mandate started.
Thursday, Politico reported that 103 Marines were likewise separated from the service for not being vaccinated.
According to the Politico story, some 4,000 active-duty personnel have refused getting the shot, and six leaders were also removed from the ranks.
The Army and Navy are each reporting a 98% vaccination rate, compared to 97.5% for the Air Force and 95% for the Marines, the article said.
The Army is planning to start separating soldiers in January and has already issued 2,767 reprimands to refusing personnel.
Tenney said she has heard from several military members, some who have taken the vaccine to keep their military careers, and from others who left with an "other than" honorable discharge.
"This is the world we're in. There's no common sense," she said. "I just say to these Marines, hopefully this will pass, and we'll get better leadership, and at the top also with the commander in chief in our civilian command, in this country."
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