The Veterans Health Administration will generally grant religious exemption requests for those who do not want to take the COVID-19 vaccine, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said this week. Exemptions may be denied for personnel who work with elderly, frail or severely ill veterans, according to Military.com.

“We are not going in to challenge the legitimacy of somebody’s claim to a religious exception,” McDonough told reporters this week.

But he said employees who work closely with high-risk patients may not be off the hook.

“We may have so many people claim religious exception that we can’t safely provide care for veterans in those vulnerable situations – in which case, we reserve the right to deny religious exception,” McDonough said.

For those individuals, termination is still an option, he said.

Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. David Eichaker