May 14, 2022 – Four seniors at the U.S. Air Force Academy may not graduate due to refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine, Associated Press report.
The Department of Defense last year required all service members, including cadets, to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they were exempted. Service workers also need to receive many other vaccines.
The Associated Press said that Air Force Academy spokesman Lt. Col. Brian Maguire said the situation could change because “there are two weeks until graduation, so their status may change as cadets weigh their options.” .
Commencement is scheduled for May 25 at the Air Force Academy campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Maguire also said two juniors, one sophomore and six freshmen refused to be vaccinated.
One possible consequence for Air Force cadets is having to repay tuition to the government. The Associated Press said U.S. military academies sometimes require students to repay these fees, which can be as high as $200,000 if they leave during their junior or senior years.
The Associated Press said that the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York and the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, said none of their seniors would miss graduation by refusing to be vaccinated.
Mike Ross, an attorney representing the three senior cadets, said if they went ahead with a dose of the vaccine, they could graduate late and be commissioned as officers, but “they have limited time to make decisions and they’re running out of time,” colorado springs gazette said.
Gordon Klingenschmidt, an Air Force Academy graduate who leads evangelical ministries, said the four seniors opposed vaccines on religious grounds, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. “That’s why they don’t get vaccinated,” he said. “It’s not because they hate all vaccines.