Navy Boots First Batch of COVID-19 Vaccine Refusers

The U.S. Navy has discharged a primary group of 20 sailors who refused to get vaccinated towards COVID-19, the service introduced Wednesday.

The 20 have been all discharged as “Entry Degree Separations,” that means that that they had just lately enlisted and have been booted inside 180 days of starting service. These separations mark the beginning of the promised penalties for active-duty sailors who refused to get totally vaccinated by the Navy’s deadline of Nov. 28.

Officers beforehand have instructed reporters that they anticipate most sailors who’re leaving the service will separate by June 1.

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In line with the most recent replace, the Navy presently has 5,268 unvaccinated sailors and has obtained 3,009 requests for spiritual lodging. To this point, not one of the navy companies has granted a non secular lodging request for the COVID-19 vaccine.

In distinction, the Marine Corps introduced that it has discharged 45 Marines within the final week alone for vaccine refusal. The Corps has discharged 251 Marines because it started the separations the week of Dec. 16.

The discharges come at a tough time for the Navy and the Pentagon’s enforcement of the vaccine mandate. This week, a federal choose in Texas ordered the Navy to pause disciplinary procedures towards 35 SEALs for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nevertheless, the order solely halts proceedings towards the 35 defendants — it doesn’t apply to the Navy or navy general.

The Navy made clear in November that it deliberate to discharge sailors who rejected the COVID-19 vaccine. As a part of that plan, it created a COVID Consolidated Disposition Authority to supervise separations.

Extra just lately, Navy leaders mentioned that they might be prepared to work with sailors who change their thoughts and get the vaccine regardless of having missed the deadline.

“We would like each sailor to obtain the vaccine and keep Navy,” Rear Adm. James Waters, the Navy’s director of navy personnel plans and coverage, instructed reporters throughout a roundtable in mid-December. “And if a sailor will get their shot, we are going to honor that and make each effort to retain them.”

The Navy and the Pentagon have additionally signaled {that a} mandate for booster pictures may very well be on the horizon.

As a part of its response to an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the littoral fight ship USS Milwaukee, the service supplied and really helpful booster pictures to the remainder of the crew. A Navy message launched Dec. 22 famous that, whereas booster pictures are “not obligatory,” they’re “strongly really helpful.”

“As a result of all research are converging on the necessity for a vaccine booster to make sure enduring safety, it’s primarily turning into the next-shot in a collection and can doubtless turn into obligatory within the close to future,” the message added.

— Konstantin Toropin may be reached at Comply with him on Twitter @ktoropin.

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