Armed Forces News

Chinhea, South Korea - Jan 2021: Spc. William H., right, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Chief Damage Controlman Solita L. at Navy Branch Clinic Chinhae. Soldiers assigned to the 594th Medical Hospital Center, 65th Medical Brigade administered the COVID-19 vaccine, on a completely voluntary basis, to Navy Sailors who were identified as front line personnel by their commands. (Navy photo by MCS 2nd Class Michael Chen)

Sailors who do not comply with Navy orders to receive one Covid-19 vaccination by Oct. 13 and be fully vaccinated by Nov.. 28 for active-duty personnel and Dec. 28 for reservists could lose a significant portion of their benefits, the Navy reports.

The consequences of refusal could include administrative separation, non-judicial punishment and court martial.

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The process would begin as soon as an individual sailor meets the criteria for “refusing the vaccine” – that is, receiving and disobeying a lawful order to become fully vaccinated by the deadlines, and not holding a pending or approved exemption request.

Beginning Oct. 14, such sailors may not be allowed to promote or advance, reenlist, or execute any orders other than separation orders until the Covid Consolidated Disposition Authority (CCDA) has completed a review of their individual cases. Additionally, transfer orders may be canceled. The CCDA for the active-duty Navy is the Chief of Naval Personnel. The Chief of Navy Reserve fulfills that position for reservists.

Officers and enlisted leaders who refuse vaccination will receive immediate written notification that they have five days to comply with the order or request an exemption or otherwise be relieved of their duties or face detachment for cause.

Commanding officers or officers in charge can temporarily reassign sailors who refuse the vaccine regardless of exemption status. Such decisions would be based on operational readiness and mission requirements, and must have the concurrence of the first flag officer in the chain of command.

Commanders also are being ordered to identify those who refuse vaccinations, and verify that refusers have received counseling about the actions they may face as a result. Leaders also must submit either a special evaluation or a fitness report relating to each sailor’s refusal. Such paperwork should include details regarding the failure to comply with medical readiness responsibilities, and document any other related misconduct under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Guidelines for reporting officers or sailors E-6 and above differ from those E-5 and below. An all-hands NAVADMIN announcement articulates those differences, as well as ways any sailor can apply for an exemption.

Those who refuse could face discharges no lower than a general discharge under honorable conditions. Such discharges could result in the loss of some veterans’ benefits.
Sailors who began terminal leave before the deadlines are exempt from vaccine requirements.

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