Image of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson transits the Pacific Ocean on July 11, 2021. The Navy announced this week it released 20 entry-level sailors for failing to get a coronavirus vaccine. File Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Isaiah Williams/U.S. Navy
Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The Navy released 20 sailors from duty Wednesday for their continued refusal to take a coronavirus vaccine.
The servicemembers were all in their first 180 days of active duty with the military branch. The Navy said the entry-level separations occurred during their initial training periods. More than 8,000 Navy members overall continue to be unvaccinated.
That group includes 5,268 active-duty sailors and 2,980 reservists.
The Navy said while no other separations have been issued, unvaccinated servicemembers with longer tenures could face the same fate in the coming months. Navy commanders started the separation process last month for sailors who have refused to take the coronavirus vaccine.
U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Texas on Monday granted a preliminary injunction for 26 Navy SEALS, five special warfare combatant craft crewmen, three Navy divers and one explosive ordnance disposal technician who fought the branch's vaccine mandate.
The preliminary injunction keeps the Navy from taking adverse action against the plaintiffs for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine due to religious reasons.
Defense Department spokesman John Kirby declined to elaborate on the Texas decision.
"We are aware, of course, of the injunction and we're reviewing it and in discussions with the Department of Justice as to the -- what options might be available to us going forward," Kirby said, according to USNI News.
As of Wednesday, the Navy has confirmed 57,396 cases of COVID-19 among sailors, including 17 deaths.