U.S. Navy Introduces Service-wide Incentives for Vaccinated Sailors

The Navy became the first military branch in the U.S. to announce a service-wide incentive to encourage sailors to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The incentives include increased freedom of movement at port calls and removing the requirement of pre-deployment quarantine for sailors who have been vaccinated.

“The science is pretty clear, vaccinations are key to best protecting our Sailors. The more Sailors that are vaccinated, the better for them, their families, the Navy, and the Nation,” said Vice Admiral Phil Sawyer, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans, and Strategy.

Under the updated guidance released on Monday afternoon, sailors who are fully vaccinated will not undergo quarantine before a deployment. Those who have not been administered the vaccine must be sequestered for 14 days before being deployed. Naval commands will also allow increased freedom of movement on ships, based on the vaccination rate and the size of the units.

Across the military, the vaccination incentive programs have only been instituted at the base level, not service-wide guidance. Some Army and Marine Corps bases are offering extra days off and lowered restrictions on freedom of movement for vaccinated service members. 

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John Kirby, the Chief Pentagon Spokesman, said that the Pentagon is not considering a standard incentive program for the entire military.

“I think, like the secretary [of defense] said, the best incentive is to know that you’re doing the right thing for your family, for your friends, and for your teammates,” Kirby said.

“There are, of course, local base commanders, and you’ve seen some of them adopting modest ways of recognizing those who have received the vaccine, but they do that at their level,” Kirby added. 

The Pentagon announced last week that there was a surge in military vaccinations over the previous month. The opening of vaccines to the entire military population was followed by a 55% jump in vaccinations in the military sector. From approximately 500,000 troops who have received their first dose as of April 19, the number increased to about 775,000 as of May 19.