The US Navy has announced plans to discharge personnel who refuse to have COVID-19 vaccinations.
At the end of August, it was announced that COVID vaccinations were to be made compulsory, but this is the first indication of what action will be taken against those personnel who refuse to be jabbed.
Administrative actions may start as soon as a member of navy personnel meets the definition of "refusing the vaccine", but this does not apply to those with a pending or approved exemption request.
All active duty sailors must be fully vaccinated by 28 November, while those in the selected reserve have until 28 December.
The US Navy's policy goal is to achieve a force fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the year.
For those who fail to comply, the US Navy has established the COVID Consolidated Disposition Authority (CCDA) to "ensure a fair and consistent process" for discharge.
Effective immediately upon "refusing the vaccine", sailors will not be allowed to promote or advance, re-enlist, or execute orders, with the exception of separation orders, until the CCDA has completed their case.
The CCDA may also remove warfare qualifications, designations, classifications or specialties from personnel who refuse the vaccine.
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Those expelled for refusing the vaccine will receive a general honourable discharge, but could lose certain benefits or be forced to repay the cost of training and education in some cases.
At the end of August, the US Secretary of Defense made vaccines mandatory for American military personnel.
"To date, over 98% of active-duty US Navy service members have met our readiness responsibility by completing or initiating a COVID-19 vaccination series, ensuring the continued readiness of our worldwide deployable Navy," said Admiral William Lescher, Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
"Tragically, there have been 164 deaths within the navy family due to COVID-19, far exceeding the combined total of all other health or mishap-related injuries and deaths over the same time period," Vice Admiral John B. Nowell, Jr, the Chief of Naval Personnel, said.
Of those, 144 were not vaccinated, with the immunisation status of the remaining 20 undetermined, he said.