Navy approves first religious COVID-19 vaccine exemption with conditions
Navy approves first religious COVID-19 vaccine exemption with conditions

Navy approves first religious COVID-19 vaccine exemption with conditions

Hospitaller Tanner Huffman, affiliated with the US Naval Hospital Yokosuka Branch Health Clinic Sasebo, administers a COVID-19 vaccine booster during a shooting exercise for Japanese Master Labor Contract (MLC), Indirect Hire Agreement (IHA) and Mariner’s Contract (MC) employees. at Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo (CFAS) in Japan on February 9, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Navy conditionally approved a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine, the first time for any vaccine in seven years, the Navy announced Wednesday.

The religious dispensation was given to a sailor in the Individual Ready Reserve, according to the Navy’s weekly COVID-19 update, which comes out Wednesday. However, the person must be vaccinated against COVID-19 if he or she should be called up for active duty or reserve status.

The Navy is now the third branch to approve a religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine. Marine Corps, the first division to do so, has approved three from their latest COVID-19 update, which comes out on Thursday. The Air Force has approved nine, which includes one approved following an appeal, according to its weekly COVID-19 update, released Tuesday.

The fleet separated another 30 sailors due to their continued refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, bringing the total number up to 270 separations.

Of the separated sailors, 199 had served less than six years, 48 ​​had served more than six years, 22 were in their first 180 days of service, and one was a reservist, said Lieutenant Travis Callaghan, a spokesman for the chief of staff in an email.

The 246 sailors and a reservist who served more than 180 days were all separated with honorable spills, according to the Navy update.

The fleet now has less than 8,000 sailors and reservists who are not fully vaccinated, a number that includes those with exceptions, those awaiting waiver requests and those in the process of being vaccinated.

There are 4,883 active sailors who have not yet been fully vaccinated, a decrease of 279 since last week. There are 3,069 reservists who have not been fully vaccinated, a decrease of 98 since the last update.

The Navy has granted 11 permanent medical dispensations, 232 temporary medical dispensations and 44 administrative dispensations to active seafarers. The Navy granted 11 temporary medical exemptions and nine administrative exemptions to reservists.

The service has received 3,369 requests for religious exemption from active seafarers and 812 from reservists. It is not clear how many have been convicted.

To be fully vaccinated, a sailor must be two weeks after their second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one-shot Johnson and Johnson. The booster shot is encouraged but is not required.

During a town hall for the entire service, the Chief of Navy Personnel called Viceadm. John Nowell sailors to get the extra shot and told sailors that they have already lost too many to COVID-19.

“I’m so proud of the Navy to move up and get vaccinated, but now we all need to join the 85 million Americans who have been given booster shots,” Nowell said.

Less than 50 percent of the fleet has received the booster shot, Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. said Andrew DeGarmo.

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