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Navy Nearing 1,000 COVID-19 Vaccine Denial Separations

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Gregzon Fontanilla, from Guam, prepares a COVID-19 vaccine aboard the America-class amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on May 10, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Navy has approved nearly 1,000 separations for sailors who have refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Navy now has 924 separations over the COVID-19 vaccine, an increase of 40 over the previous week.

The majority of separations are active-duty sailors, with 836 active-duty sailors separated and 66 reservists. All received honorable characterization of service, according to the sea service’s weekly COVID-19 update. There are also 22 sailors who were separated in their first 180 days of service.

The Navy cannot currently separate sailors who have filed a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine due to a class-action lawsuit currently in the Middle District of Florida.

The Navy is seeing sailors who have decided to get vaccinated when faced with separations, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

There are also sailors who planned to voluntarily separate who are now getting vaccinated in order to stay in the Navy, Gilday said.

The Navy is following a lawful order from the president, Gilday said, but the need for vaccination is also a readiness issue.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger also testified that the Marine Corps, which have separated 2,117 Marines, as of May 4, is mandating the vaccine because of readiness concerns.

“Every Marine has to be fully medically prepared to deploy anywhere on the globe on short notice,” Berger said.

Even as sailors are getting vaccinated or separated, there are 3,962 active-duty sailors and 3,288 reservists that are not vaccinated, according to the Navy COVID-19 update.

The Navy has approved 14 permanent and 216 temporary medical exemptions for active-duty sailors. The sea service approved one permanent and 83 temporary medical waivers for reservists.