Last Updated on May 23, 2022
Three cadets at the Air Force Academy who refused the Covid-19 vaccine will not be commissioned as officers upon graduating, according to a report in the New York Post. The three recent grads will earn bachelor’s degrees but will not be permitted to serve. Another cadet decided to get vaccinated when faced with the same predicament.
Academy spokesman Dean Miller announced on Tuesday that in addition to the three grads not being commissioned, they also may have to reimburse the US Government for their education costs. The latter is currently being decided on by the Secretary of the Air Force. If the decision requires the unvaccinated cadets to pay their tuition, it could cost them around $200,000. In some cases, cadets have had to reimburse for their tuition in the event they drop out during their junior or senior year, or if they have a disciplinary issue while at the academy.
The Air Force is currently the only branch of the Armed Forces to institute measures such as this at its academy. Other branches have discharged active service members for refusing the vaccine, after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made the vaccine a requirement last year. Some service members have sought religious exemptions from Austin’s mandate, but have largely failed to secure them. According to the Post, “Those who flatly refuse the vaccine without seeking an exemption are still being discharged. But the courts have stalled additional discharges of service members who sought religious exemptions.”
The Covid-19 vaccine was mandated across most of the federal government last year by the Biden Administration. A Supreme Court ruling from earlier this year overturned the Administration’s desire to use OSHA to mandate the vaccine in the private sector, but upheld the mandate federally, as well as at businesses receiving federal funding.
This largely included healthcare workers, most of which work at large corporations receiving federal funding. This measure was upheld in large part due to two of the supposed conservative-leaning justices, Roberts and Kavanaugh. The three liberal-leaning justices voted to uphold both federal and private vaccine mandates.