Navy has fewer vaccinated sailors than previously reported, but still over 97%

The Navy was successful in vaccinating a high number of its active duty sailors before the Nov. 28 deadline, with 97.2% of troops getting at least one dose.

The service found itself on par with the Air Force and Space Force in getting most of its service members vaccinated in the time the military branches allotted. The Marine Corps is lagging behind with only 95% of the service receiving at least one shot.

The Navy’s numbers contradict a more optimistic look of the service’s vaccination rate. On Nov. 15, the Navy reported that more than 99% of its active duty force had gotten at least one shot.

The service has not yet reported how many sailors are flat out refusing to get the shot, however, 2,531 requests for religious accommodation were requested. All of those requests were denied. The Marine Corps took a similar strict response to religious exemptions. To date, 2,441 Marines have applied for religious accommodation; about 1,900 have been processed and zero granted.

“The Department of the Navy does not normally grant religious accommodations for vaccinations,” a release from the Marine Corps states.

There are very few sailors who are getting a pass on the shots. Seven permanent medical exemptions have been granted and six are pending. There are also 400 temporary medical exemption and 134 temporary administrative exemptions. Administrative exemptions are for those who are operationally unavailable for the shot due to deployment in an area where the vaccine is not available.

The service says 88% of the reserve force has gotten one dose of the vaccine and 85.6% is fully vaccinated. Those sailors are not required to be vaccinated until Dec. 28.

The Navy is following a process for separation for sailors who refuse the lawful order to get vaccinated.

“In order to ensure a fully vaccinated force, it is Navy policy to separate all Navy service members who refuse the lawful order to receive the COVID-19 vaccination,” Vice Adm. John B. Nowell, the chief of naval personnel wrote, in a message. “The least favorable characterization of service for Navy service members refusing the vaccine, without extenuating circumstances, will be GENERAL (under honorable conditions).”

As of Nov. 29, nearly 50,000 sailors have gotten COVID-19 and 16 have died.

The Air Force released its numbers shortly after its Nov. 4 deadline. Only 800, or 0.2%, of the active duty force flat out refused the shot. About 5,000 airmen and guardians applied for a religious exemption.

The Air Force announced last week that unvaccinated airmen will not be able to proceed to existing permanent change of station (PCS) orders and will not be eligible for future orders unless they get an approved medical or religious accommodation.

“Airmen not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will receive an Assignment Availability Code preventing future assignment selection until resolution,” Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, wrote in a memo obtained by the Facebook group Air Force amn/nco/snco. “Airmen currently on assignment are not authorized to out-process and depart on PCS, with the exception of those who have out-processed and/or shipped household goods/vehicles on or prior to Nov. 29.”

For those overseas, the assignment code will extend the date eligible to return as needed. The dates will be adjusted in 120-day increments until the airman is eligible.

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