884 Navy Personnel Discharged From Service for COVID-19 Vaccine Refusal

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
May 10, 2022 Updated: May 10, 2022

The number of Navy personnel discharged for refusing to get vaccinated has risen to 884, the military branch said on May 5.

In total, there have been 796 active component sailors and 66 reserve component sailors separated, all with “an honorable characterization of service,” the Navy said in a COVID-19 update.

A total of 22 Entry Level Separations have taken place. Those separations are given to individuals who, since the vaccine mandate began, have separated from the Navy prior to having completed 180 days of active military service.

The Navy mandated that active-duty sailors must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Nov. 28, 2021, while reserve troops had until Dec. 28, 2021.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a Biden nominee, initially imposed the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in August 2021, stating that being vaccinated would “enable our service members to stay healthy, to better protect their families, and to ensure that our force is ready to operate anywhere in the world.”

Austin also said the vaccination requirements were “necessary to protect the force and defend the American people.”

The Navy began discharging sailors in January of this year and has so far not eased up on the mandate, despite the shots being less effective in protecting against the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.

A number of soldiers had submitted exemption requests from the mandate on religious or medical grounds.

“Sailors who submitted religious accommodation requests may no longer be separated for vaccine refusal,” the Navy noted. “Vaccine refusers who have not submitted religious accommodation requests remain subject to adverse administrative action, including separation.”

The Navy said that a total of 10 religious accommodation requests for members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) have been conditionally approved, meaning that the individual will not be required to get vaccinated while in the IRR but must be fully vaccinated before returning to service.

As of May 5, there are a total of 3,355 active-duty and 857 Ready Reserve requests for a religious accommodation from immunization. Active-duty service members currently have 14 permanent medical exemptions and 224 temporary medical exemptions, and Ready Reserve service members currently have one permanent medical exemption and 86 temporary medical exemptions.

Overall, the Navy has the second-highest number of personnel being discharged for refusing to get the shot, behind the Marine Corps, which has now separated 2,117 Marines, according to the United States Naval Institute.

Meanwhile, the Army has the third-highest separations at 505, and the Air Force has 351.

As of May 5, 3,951 active component and 3,291 Ready Reserve service members remain unvaccinated.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.