The Navy has announced a timeline for all sailors to get the mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations or provide a valid exemption. Furthermore, there will be consequences for those who do not comply. All active-duty sailors must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 28 and reservists by a month later.
Since the vaccination requires 14 days to become fully effective, the second dose would need to have been taken by Nov. 14 for active-duty sailors and Dec. 14 for reserve personnel. Anyone discharged for specifically refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine will be given no less than an "honorable" general discharge, although some veterans' benefits could be lost.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order in September requiring members of the military to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Many service members have not yet done so, with some citing religious reasons or concerns that the vaccine has not been fully tested.
Of the military branches, the Navy has the highest rate of compliance with 90% fully vaccinated and 98% who have received at least one dose.
"Sailors must be prepared to execute their mission at all times, in places throughout the world, including where vaccination rates are low and disease transmission is high. Immunizations are of paramount importance to protecting the health of the force and the warfighting readiness of the Fleet," according to the Navy's press release.
"Tragically, there have been 164 deaths within the Navy family due to COVID-19, far exceeding the combined total of all other health or mishap related injuries and deaths over the same time period,'' wrote Vice Adm. John B. Nowell Jr., chief of naval personnel.
Of those, he said, 144 were not immunized. The vaccination status of the remaining 20 is not known.