On Thursday, the U.S. Navy announced that it is planning on discharging any sailors that refuse the COVID-19 vaccine, which is mandated by the Pentagon.
Service members who are removed for their refusal are at risk of losing veterans benefits. The Navy reported that 98% of their active duty members are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
In a press release, the Navy noted Nov. 14 as the deadline for sailors to get their second shot or single shot of a one-dose vaccine. Reservists have until Dec. 14 to get their vaccination.
The statement from the Navy explained “those separated only for vaccine refusal will receive no lower than a general discharge under honorable conditions”. Sailors without an exemption by the deadline will face a discharge that “could result in the loss of some veterans’ benefits”.
The Navy stated that it “may also seek recoupment of applicable bonuses, special and incentive pays, and the cost of training and education for service members refusing the vaccine”.
Sailors must be prepared to execute their mission at all times, in places throughout the world, including where vaccination rates are low and disease transmission is high.
“Immunizations are of paramount importance to protecting the health of the force and the warfighting readiness of the Fleet”, the Navy added.
Following the full FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Department of Defense announced that all members of the armed forces must be vaccinated.