Navy Separates 23 Active-Duty Sailors for Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine

January 26, 2022 1:04 PM - Updated: January 26, 2022 6:29 PM
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Ashcraft, from Honolulu, assigned to the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Tulsa (LCS 16), administers the COVID-19 vaccine booster for Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Anthony Johnson, from San Diego, assigned to the “Blackjacks” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, aboard the submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) in Apra Harbor, Guam, on Jan. 10, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Navy separated 23 active-duty sailors for refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the sea service announced Wednesday.

The 23 separated sailors were all discharged with an honorable characterization of service, according to the Navy’s weekly COVID-19 update.

All 23 separated sailors were enlisted sailors who were in the Navy less than six years. They ranged in rank from seaman apprentice to petty officer second class, said Lt. Travis Callaghan, a spokesperson for the chief of naval personnel, in an email.

This brings the total number of separations due to COVID-19 vaccination refusal to 45. The other 22 separations were active-duty sailors who were in their first 180 days of service, USNI News previously reported.

As of Jan 26, 5,035 active-duty sailors remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, although this number does include those in the process of being fully vaccinated, those with exemptions and those waiting for adjudication of the waiver requests.

The number of unvaccinated sailors decreased by 78 since last week, which likely includes the 23 separations.

There are 2,960 reservists who are not fully vaccinated, a decrease of seven from the previous week. No reservists have been separated as of Jan. 26.

The Navy has not yet granted a religious exemption for active-duty or reserve sailors, consistent with its past history of not granting a religious exemption in the past seven years. This has led some sailors to sue, USNI News previously reported.

The service has granted 10 permanent medical exemptions, 259 temporary medical exemptions and 59 administrative exemptions to active-duty sailors and seven temporary medical exemptions and 24 administrative exemptions to reservists.


Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
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