The U.S. Navy has officially announced that they’re preparing to discharge sailors who go against the Pentagon’s Covid-19 vaccination mandate. A press release has confirmed that sailors on active duty have until November 14th of this year to receive a one-shot vaccination or the second shot in a series vaccination. Sailors who are in reserve have until December 14th.
After the deadline date passes, non-vaccinated sailors who don’t have an exemption will be generally discharged under honorable conditions. That discharge could mean losing some of their veteran’s benefits, as well as leading the navy to seek reimbursement for training costs, bonuses, and incentive pay that the sailors may have previously received.
The Navy stated in its press release that “sailors must be prepared to execute their orders at all times” and that “immunizations are of paramount importance to protecting the health of the force and the warfighting readiness of the Fleet.” These are strong sentiments, and the Navy is already receiving criticism.
Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, has written a letter to President Biden and the Secretary Of Defense, Lloyd Austin, that questions the vaccine mandate. Senator Johnson stated that he had received reports from multiple sources that indicate troops may be receiving shots that haven’t been approved by the FDA. These claims haven’t been substantiated, but the senator has requested documents about the matter.
The controversial vaccine mandate has also received criticism from some members of the military. Lt. Colonel Paul Douglas Hague, who has served for nearly two decades, has gained attention after announcing he will retire and lose his pension rather than receive the vaccine.
While the move has certainly received its share of criticism, it is supported by the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and many senators, congressmen, and other state representatives.
For those members of the public who are worried that the potential discharges might weaken the strength of the Navy, it’s worth noting that the Navy has stated that 98% of its active-duty members have already been vaccinated. That means that even in the worst-case scenario, the navy will only have to discharge 2% of its active-duty members.
The Navy isn’t the only armed forces branch facing this dilemma, the Department of Defense announced in August that every service member in each branch must be vaccinated. President Biden has also chosen to enforce this requirement among government employees, who have until November 22nd of this year to show proof of their vaccination status.
OSHA has been informed by President Biden that they must soon follow suit, and they’re expected to mandate that all U.S. businesses with 100 or more employees must commit to ensuring that their workforce is fully vaccinated, or that non-vaccinated individuals are tested for Covid-19 weekly.
These regulations, and future regulations, have been challenged by some members of the government. Governor Gregg Abbott of Texas recently made the news for saying that the state would seek to create a law banning employers from having Covid-19 vaccination mandates in place for their employees. If this is successful, Texans who are terminated by their private employer due to vaccine status could take the matter to court.
If one thing is clear, it’s that the country is divided over vaccine mandates. While arguments continue, the mandates and regulations will remain in place. With that in mind, it’s advisable that service members weigh their options and make a decision before the vaccine deadline passes.