US Navy Lifts COVID Vaccine Mandate For Sailor Deployment

 Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times,

The U.S. Navy will no longer consider the COVID-19 vaccination status of sailors when making decisions about their deployment, according to newly updated Navy guidance published this week.

US Navy Lifts COVID Vaccine Mandate For Sailor Deployment

The updated guidance comes shortly after Congress removed the military’s vaccine requirement as part of the $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2023.

Biden signed the (NDAA) into law in December and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin officially rescinded the vaccination mandate in January.

“Commanders should seek advice from medical providers regarding medical readiness of personnel to inform deployment and other operational mission decisions,” the Navy’s new guidance said.

“COVID-19 vaccination status shall not be a consideration in assessing individual service member suitability for deployment or other operational missions.”

“Under no circumstances shall a Commander mandate that any Navy Service member receives the COVID-19 vaccination,” it adds.

Prior to the updated guidance, the mandate requiring that vaccine status be considered before the deployment of sailors had been in place for more than a year.

No Distinction Between Vaccinated, Non-Vaccinated

Thursday’s updated guidance also noted, “Commanders retain the authority to implement Health Protection Measures at any time or manner deemed necessary in support of operational safety and effectiveness, and where necessary, to restrict movement of service members in order to comply with host nation quarantine regulations.”

Additionally, it noted that senior members of the navy should still evaluate risks to missions and individual sailors.

“Commanders at all levels are directed to balance operational employment with the health and safety of their units in accordance with current USD (P&R) Force Health Protection Guidance,” the guidance said.

It also noted that sailors who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 may still face restrictions when entering countries that have COVID-19 regulations such as quarantine in place, and that in such cases, commanders will need to ensure sailors comply with those requirements.

“GNCCs [Geographic Navy Component Commanders] will assess and determine in advance any host nation quarantine regulation requirements that may challenge U.S. sovereign immunity policy,” the guidance stated.

The guidance makes it clear that there is no distinction between vaccinated and non-vaccinated sailors, and that individual cases of  COVID-19 will no longer need to be reported, although pandemic or infectious disease-related medical evacuations, hospitalizations, and deaths will still need to be reported.

According to the United States Naval Institute (USNI), the Navy has separated a total of 2,096 sailors for not adhering to the earlier COVID-19 vaccine mandate—1,664 of whom were on active duty.

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