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USAFA Cadet refusing COVID vaccine in order to graduate resigns


U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (KRDO) -- One of the four senior U.S. Air Force Cadets who faced the possibility of not graduating unless they got the COVID-19 vaccine has voluntarily resigned.

According to the USAFA, two cadets are still refusing to get vaccinated. The other cadet decided to get vaccinated.

The USAFA said the fourth cadet submitted paperwork to resign.

Below is a statement provided to 13 Investigates regarding the situation:

“Two senior cadets are refusing to obey the Secretary of Defense’s lawful order from August 2021 to receive vaccination against COVID-19. This vaccine requirement is in addition to the eight other vaccines required of all individuals for accession into the military.  This refusal, if it continues, may impact their ability to graduate and commission. Cadets with health and religious concerns were given the opportunity to follow Air Force policy in requesting accommodation based on their faith traditions or medical condition. Part of that religious accommodation process included an interview with a chaplain who determined if the cadet had a sincerely held religious belief. However, even if an individual holds a sincerely held religious belief, the decision authority, in this instance the Superintendent, must weigh that belief against the compelling government interest of ensuring a safe and ready force – crucial to meet global deployment responsibilities. 

We provided resources and information to the cadets in order to make a decision and graduate with the Class of 2022. The majority of our religious accommodation requests centered on the use of stem cells in the development and/or production of the currently available vaccines. There are vaccines available that did not use stem cells in the development, testing or production, which was presented as an option. The cadets refused to commit to this vaccine. Another USAFA staff member used their own resources to obtain the Novavax vaccine and is now in compliance with DoD policy. We have taken every step and continued to work to protect the religious freedom of our cadets and staff. These cadets are not out of time.  If they start a vaccine regimen and commit to finishing it according to the FDA/CDC recommendations, they can graduate and commission with the rest of the class on May 25. They must be fully vaccinated by Aug. 1. We want to see these cadets graduate and commission, but they must meet the military requirements necessary for a ready force.

Lt Col Brian Maguire, Director, Public Affairs, U.S. Air Force Academy
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