U.S. Navy tells sailors to take the vaccine or they could be forced to pay back all of their training costs, face discharge

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This week, the U.S. Navy issued a sweeping new order that details exactly what’s going to happen to sailors who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

In a memo published on October 14th, the Navy makes its stance on forced vaccination among the ranks very clear. If you don’t get the vaccine, you will be discharged and the Navy will also seek to force those separated members to pay the government back for all of their training and education.

“With COVID-19 vaccines now mandatory for all military members, the Navy has announced plans to start processing for discharge those who refuse vaccination without a pending or approved exemption,” the Navy said.

The new guidance sets a deadline for all active-duty Sailors to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 28, while those in the selected reserve have until Dec. 28. The message also outlines the consequences for failing to comply. 

Effective immediately upon the release of the message, commands shall not allow Sailors refusing the vaccine to promote or advance, reenlist, or execute orders, with the exception of separation orders, until the CCDA has completed disposition of their case. Transfer orders may be cancelled by Navy Personnel Command.


Commanding officers must identify those refusing the vaccine and verify that the Sailors have an initial counseling NAVPERS 1070/13, or “Page 13”. Within thirty days of a Navy service member refusing the vaccine, reporting seniors must submit a special evaluation or fitness report.

The Navy added, that sailors who do not get the vaccine can be forced to repay the money the Department of Defense spent to train them.

“For Navy service members refusing the vaccine, the CCDA also retains the authority for administrative processes regarding removal of warfare qualifications, additional qualification designations (AQD), Navy Enlisted Classifications (NEC), or sub-specialties, except in cases where removal authority is otherwise authorized by law or Executive Order.  The CCDA may also seek recoupment of applicable bonuses, special and incentive pays, and the cost of training and education for service members refusing the vaccine,” the memo reads.

“To date, over 98 percent of active-duty U.S. 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 Adm. William Lescher, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, in the message.

Those separated only for vaccine refusal will receive no lower than a general discharge under honorable conditions. This type of discharge could result in the loss of some veterans’ benefits.

“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,” wrote Vice Adm. John B. Nowell, Jr., the Chief of Naval Personnel.  Of those, he noted, 144 were not immunized. The vaccination status of the remaining 20 remains undetermined.