By LOLITA C. BALDOR
WASHINGTON (AP) — As deadlines loom for military and defense civilians to get mandated COVID-19 vaccines, senior leaders are wrestling with the fate of tens of thousands who flatly refuse the shots or are seeking exemptions, and how to make sure they are treated fairly and equally. It could be a career-ending decision, or could trigger transfers, travel restrictions and requirements to repay bonuses. Exemption decisions will be made by unit commanders around the world, on what the Pentagon says will be a “case-by-case” basis. That raises a vexing issue for military leaders who are pushing a vaccine mandate seen as critical to maintaining a healthy force, but want to avoid a haphazard approach with those who refuse.