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At least three cadets of the US Air Force Academy will not be commissioned as military officers because they have refused to get the Covid-19 vaccine, reported AP.  The cadets will instead graduate with bachelor's degrees. 

“They will not be commissioned into the United States Air Force as long as they remain unvaccinated," the news agency quoted academy spokesperson Dean Miller as saying.

He also informed that a decision on whether to require the three to reimburse the United States for education costs in lieu of service will be made by the secretary of the Air Force.

Miller said that another cadet who had refused the vaccine until about a week ago had decided to get inoculated and hence, will become an Air Force officer.

Lt Col Brian Maguire, an Air Force Academy spokesman, said a week ago that all four of the cadets had been informed of the potential consequences and met with the academy's superintendent..

Currently, the Air Force is the only military academy, where cadets are not being commissioned due to vaccine refusal. All of the more than 1,000 Army cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, graduated and were commissioned as officers earlier in the day and all were vaccinated.

The Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, said Saturday that none of the Navy or Marine Corps seniors there are being prevented from commissioning due to vaccine refusals. That graduation is later this week, and the Air Force ceremony is Wednesday in Colorado. Ahead of that ceremony, the US Air Force Academy Board conducted its standard review of whether this year's class had met all graduation requirements on Friday.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is the scheduled speaker at the Air Force graduation, last year made the Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for service members, including those at the military academies, saying the vaccine is critical to maintaining military readiness and health of the force.

Military leaders have argued that troops for decades have been required to get as many as 17 vaccines in order to maintain the health of the force, particularly those deploying overseas. Students arriving at the military academies get a regimen of shots on their first day — such as measles, mumps and rubella - if they aren't already vaccinated. And they routinely get flu shots in the fall.

Until the Covid-19 vaccine, very few military members sought religious exemptions to any vaccines.

With inputs from agencies. 

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