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U.S. Navy, Marine Corps set deadline for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations

By
Jake Thomas
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps announced that all active duty members of the services must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the year, in line with a directive from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last month. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps announced that all active duty members of the services must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the year, in line with a directive from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last month. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI.
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Sept. 2 (UPI) -- All active duty and reserve service members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the year, according to memos issued by each branch.

Both the Navy's memo and one from the Marine Corps, issued Sept. 1, give all active duty members of the service to be fully vaccinated within 90 days from the date each directive was issued. Reserve members have 120 days.

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last month that he would enact a requirement in mid-September for all service members to get the jab or sooner if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully licensed a vaccine.

The new directives from the Navy and Marines come on the heels of the FDA giving full approval to Pfizer's vaccine on Aug. 23.

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"As the faithful maritime protectors of our country in peacetime and war, each of us must take ownership of our readiness to preserve and protect the force, and ensure the success of our mission," Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said in his Aug. 24 memo.

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Those who receive the Pfizer vaccine are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose. Both memos include exemptions for those with qualifying medical conditions.

Austin, in an Aug. 25 memo, directed all branches of the military to move forward with fully vaccinating service members.

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His order gave exemptions if service members are enrolled in COVID-19 clinical trials.

Service members that have received both doses of the two-shot Moderna vaccine or one dose of the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine are considered fully vaccinated.

"Our vaccination of the Force will save lives," he said in the memo.

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The Coast Guard, which operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is requiring vaccinations but has not set out a timeline in guidance posted online.

The U.S. Army, Air Force and Space Force also have not yet announced vaccination directives for their members.

The U.S. Defense Department has administered 4.9 million vaccine doses, with 1.1 million service members fully vaccinated, according to its most recent numbers.

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The Army has the most fully vaccinated at 406,950 and the Marine Corps the fewest at 116,325. Both the Navy and Air Force have over 299,000 service members fully vaccinated.

There have been 347,604 cases of COVID-19 and 436 deaths among service members, civilian workers and dependents.

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Earlier this spring, the Pentagon began lifting travel restrictions between military installations. While most of the 230 installations have lifted restrictions, seven reinstated restrictions this week in response to COVID-19, according to the Pentagon.

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Last week, Naval installations in Virginia's Hampton Roads area reimposed restrictions as a health precaution, reports The Virginian-Pilot.

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