Sailors unvaccinated against COVID-19 must be tested at least once a week “when entering a DoD facility that includes the service member’s normal place of work,” according to a new naval administrative message.
On-site testing and self-tests are OK. The service said on-site testing should be available to the fullest extent, but that self-testing kits are approved in cases where on-site testing is not possible. The Navy will absorb the cost of these tests and will reimburse sailors in the event that they incur costs.
Testing for active duty sailors started Nov. 28. For sailors in the Navy Reserve, testing will commence Dec. 28, once the command has the appropriate testing supplies, the Navy said.
Just because a sailor received a negative COVID-19 test and is authorized to enter one work space does not mean that approval will carry over into other facilities, the Navy said.
“Meeting the requirements to enter one facility or work space does not guarantee entry into any other facility or work space without specific coordination and approval,” according to the NAVADMIN.
Exceptions exist for those working remotely, however.
“Unvaccinated service members who work remotely full time, or who perform duties in facilities or work spaces periodically (less-than-weekly basis), are not subject to weekly testing,” the NAVADMIN said. “However, prior to entering a Navy facility or work space, these service members must provide a negative result from a test performed within the preceding 72 hours.”
The Navy defines a work space as any place where official business occurs, but excludes areas such as the quarterdeck where testing might take place.
According to the service, 96.3 percent of active duty sailors and 94.9 percent of the total force are fully vaccinated, and 97.2 percent of active duty sailors and 96 percent of the total force have received at least one COVID-19 shot, according to figures updated Nov. 30.
Active duty sailors had until Nov. 14 to get their last COVID-19 vaccine dose to meet the Nov. 28 deadline for full vaccination. Those in the Navy Reserve have until Dec. 14 to meet the deadline for fully vaccinated status on Dec. 28.
Sailors who fail to comply could face a series of administrative actions, including separation from the service. The Navy’s COVID Consolidated Disposition Authority has been tasked with separating sailors who don’t comply with the mandatory vaccination policy, and do not receive a medical or administrative exemption, such as a religious waiver.
So far, the service has issued seven permanent medical exemptions, 400 temporary medical exemptions and 134 administrative exemptions. Even so, the Navy has signed off on zero religious waivers for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Unvaccinated sailors who do not have an approved exemption could face repercussions like losing out on education benefits, promotions and bonus pay.