Pentagon Rescinds COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate, Questions Remain for Separated Sailors

Seaman Apprentice Johnnese Poomaihealani, from Waianae, Hawaii, gets a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for the duration of a shot event in the foc’sle aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) on Jan. 3, 2022. US Navy Picture

Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin formally rescinded the COVID-19 vaccine mandate Tuesday evening in a memo, halting any more navy separations because of to refusal to get the shot series.

Congress, by means of the National Defense Authorization Act 2023, requested the Office of Protection to rescind the vaccine mandate, which Austin ordered in August 2021 on Food and drug administration approval of the Pfizer version of the vaccine. The memo Tuesday officially ends the mandate following the DoD paused all activity around the mandate following President Joe Biden signed the NDAA into regulation. Nevertheless, the memo does not tackle what will transpire to sailors who were now separated thanks to failure to get the vaccine.

Now that the mandate is rescinded, the DoD will cease any investigations into assistance customers who have been not vaccinated or asked for an exemption, which includes religious ones, according to the memo. The division will also update documents of those at present serving to eliminate any adverse steps against them above their failure to get vaccinated beneath the mandate. This features letters of reprimand.

The memo does not address whether or not provider users who ended up presently divided will be authorized again into the company. It does say they can petition for a change in the characterization of their discharge.

“For Assistance users administratively discharged on the sole basis that the Assistance member failed to obey a lawful order to acquire a vaccine for COVID-19, the Section is precluded by law from awarding any characterization much less than a standard (underneath honorable ailments) discharge,” in accordance to the memo. “Former Service customers may perhaps petition their Army Department’s Discharge Evaluation Boards and Boards for Correction of Armed service or Naval Data to separately ask for a correction to their personnel documents, including documents concerning the characterization of their discharge.”

The Division of Defense’s vaccination policies, outdoors of the now rescinded mandate, continue to be, in accordance to the memo.

“These contain the potential of commanders to take into account, as ideal, the personal immunization standing of staff in producing deployment, assignment, and other operational selections, like when vaccination is expected for journey to, or entry into, a foreign country,” according to the memo.

The section will proceed to inspire provider customers to get the vaccine and the offered boosters.

“Vaccination boosts operational readiness and protects the Drive,” according to the memo. “All commanders have the responsibility and authority to preserve the Department’s persuasive pursuits in mission accomplishment. This duty and authority features the means to sustain army readiness, unit cohesion, great order and self-control, and the health and protection of a resilient Joint Pressure.”

The Navy divided 2,089 lively-obligation sailors more than the calendar year that the COVID-19 vaccine was in effect, USNI Information earlier described.