Navy outlines discharge process for sailors who don’t get COVID vaccination

99% of active duty sailors have at least one vaccine dose, the Navy says

201009-N-N0777-1003 PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Dec. 22, 2020) The new COVID-19 vaccine is administered to Capt. Kohn Lien, left, from Baltimore, Md., a Sailor aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) by Hospitalman Naomi Ishou, right, from San Diego, and assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP). NMCP is supporting the fleet by providing the voluntary vaccination within the DoD phased approach to prioritizing mission-essential healthcare personnel in receiving the vaccine. GHWB is currently at Norfolk Naval Shipyard for its Docking Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Novalee Manzella)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The U.S. Navy says sailors who are not vaccinated and who do not have a pending or approved exemption request by their vaccination deadline “will receive no lower than a general discharge under honorable conditions” for failing to obey a lawful order.

The Navy outlined the timeline for discharge in a statement on Thursday, and established a command, the COVID Consolidated Disposition Authority (CCDA), to oversee the process. The Navy is the first military branch to detail its vaccine removal process, after the Pentagon mandated vaccines for all troops back in August. Service members can apply for medical reasons or a religious accommodation.

The Navy says the discharge for vaccine refusal could result in loss of veterans’ benefits (if the sailor receives the general discharge rather than honorable discharge) and the CCDA “retains the authority for administrative processes regarding removal of warfare qualifications, additional qualification designations (AQD), Navy Enlisted Classifications (NEC), or sub-specialties, except in cases where removal authority is otherwise authorized by law or Executive Order.”

The CCDA also can seek recoupment of certain bonuses, special and incentive pay and the cost of training and education for service members.

Active duty sailors have to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 28 and reservists have until Dec. 28.

The Navy says 99 percent of its nearly 350,000 active duty members have at least one vaccine dose at this time, per their Oct. 13 COVID update. 94% are fully vaccinated.

To read more about the process, click here.

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