Armed Forces News

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Dec. 29, 2020) Master-at-Arms 1st Class Patrick Moore receives the COVID-19 vaccine as U.S. Pacific Fleet Fleet Master Chief James Honea observes at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Dec. 29, 2020. Naval Health Clinic Hawaii was one of the facilities selected to receive the vaccine in a phased and coordinated strategy, prioritizing the vaccine for eligible personnel to protect their health, families, and communities. (Navy photo by Chief MCS Jay C. Pugh)

While buoyed by the facts that less than one quarter of the fleet has tested positive for Covid-19 of recent and roughly 35 percent of the force is vaccinated, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday sees room for improvement.

Speaking at a conference held by the Center for New American Security earlier this month, Gilday said he would like the immunization rate to reach 100 percent. Hesitancy among some sailors to take the voluntary injections “is concerning,” he said.

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Bringing the vaccine to crews has shown to be an effective method of getting sailors to accept immunizations, Gilday said. Peer pressure has the tendency to “bend things in a positive direction,” he said.

“In terms of incentivizing, as we understand the effectiveness of the vaccine better, I think we’ll begin to see a loosening up of restrictions,” Gilday said. “This has to be balances against a potential [additional] surge here in the country. We’re just stepping through it a day at a time right now.”

The CNO does not want a recurrence of incidents like that on the carrier Theodore Roosevelt a year ago, in which the virus swept through the crew and led to repercussions that ultimately cost the ship’s skipper his job. The Navy remains in daily contact with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), he said. Guidelines from CDC could lead the Navy to dangle further incentives, such as looser restrictions, as possible encouragement to get vaccinated.