On 30 August 2021, the U.S. Navy announced its plan for implementing full COVID-19 vaccination of its service members in compliance with the DoD's mandate. Secretary Del Toro declared the order to obtain full vaccination a lawful order and the refusal to comply would constitute a violation of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and therefore subject to adverse administrative or punitive action. “The Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant of the Marine Corps have authority to exercise the full range of administrative and disciplinary actions to hold non-exempt service members appropriately accountable. This may include, but is not limited to, removal of qualification for advancement, promotions, reenlistment, or continuation, consistent with existing regulations, or otherwise considering vaccination status in personnel actions as appropriate”.
The following day, Vice Admiral Merz, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, released the Navy Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination and Reporting Policy. In it, he declared that all active duty members must be fully vaccinated within 90 days of the SECNAV memorandum and Ready Reserve members within 120 days. This deadline was echoed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps in his 1 September memorandum. Included in the CNO memorandum was the announcement that the COVID Consolidated Disposition Authority (CCDA) which would be the central authority for adjudicating cases of members refusing to comply with the vaccine mandate, thus effectively taking the matter outside the member's chain of command.
If you are a sailor or marine member facing adverse action due to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, contact our offices today to discuss your legal situation with an experienced JAG attorney. Call 214-416-9100.