Thousands of sailors in the Navy Reserve have missed the deadline to get the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Navy.
A total of 3,002 Ready Reserve sailors remain unvaccinated as of Dec. 29 — a day after the Dec. 28 deadline the service set for sailors in the Reserve to reach full vaccination status.
These sailors join 5,328 active duty sailors who also remain unvaccinated more than a month after the Nov. 28 deadline they faced to reach full vaccination status.
The Navy, which has encouraged all eligible sailors to also receive a COVID-19 booster shot, formed the COVID Consolidated Disposition Authority to manage the separation of sailors refusing the vaccine. Those who deny the jab also face punishment related to education benefits, promotions and bonus pay.
Still, Navy leaders claim they want to retain as many sailors as possible and have said that more than 900 active duty sailors received the COVID-19 vaccine after the Nov. 28 deadline.
“Let me be clear up front: We want every sailor to receive the vaccine and stay Navy,” Rear Adm. James Waters III, director of military personnel, plans and policy, told reporters this month. “And if a sailor gets their shot, we will honor that and make every effort to retain them.”
A total of 2,877 active duty sailors have submitted religious accommodation requests permitting them to abstain from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, as have 283 sailors in the Navy Reserve. The service, however, has approved zero religious waivers.
So far, the Navy has signed off on eight permanent medical exemptions, 253 temporary medical exemptions and 94 administrative exemptions for active duty sailors. Likewise, the service has approved nine temporary medical exemptions and 44 administrative exemptions for those in the Navy Reserve.
The Navy won’t move to process sailors for separation if they have a pending or approved vaccine exemptions request. However, once a sailor’s request is denied, that sailors must start the vaccination process within five days to prevent the Navy from initiating the separation process.
At least 17 sailors have died from complications stemming from COVID-19.