Armed Forces News

Corpus Christi, TX - Sept 2020: Hospitalman Brandon Burt administers a seasonal flu vaccination to Hospitalman Edward Roy at Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command. Getting a flu shot now could help decrease the burden on the health care system during the overlapping flu season and COVID-19 pandemic. (Navy photo by Dale Davis)

Nearly all Navy personnel must receive an influenza vaccination as soon as it is available to them, the service stated in a directive to all hands.

“The seasonal influenza vaccination is mandatory for all DoD uniformed personnel who are not medically or administratively exempt,” the directive stated. “Any refusal to receive [the flu shot] will constitute a failure to obey a lawful order and may be punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and/or result in administrative action.”

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The directive also stated that Navy civilian employees are required to get flu shots. The inoculations will be available to TRICARE beneficiaries free of charge. The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic “is not a contraindication for administration” of flu shots, the directive stated. Should a vaccine for COVID-19 become available while the health care system is meting flu shots, the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) will issue further instructions.

Ships, operational assets and training commands have priority for receiving the vaccine. Once these or any commands’ medical teams receive their supply of flu vaccine, service members stationed at them will have 72 hours to get their flu shots. They also must be able to provide proof of having done so.