NORFOLK, Va. — Top officials in the U.S. Navy say the COVID-19 vaccine could soon become mandatory for all members of the force.
Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Admiral John Nowell told sailors during a recent virtual Town Hall that the COVID-19 vaccines could become mandatory if and when the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant full approval to the vaccine.
"It's very personal for everybody. It's a very personal decision. It's emergency use authorization, so unlike the flu vaccine, which we do make mandatory in the Navy, that's not something that we can do," Nowell said. "Although I believe that when it's formally approved, which we expect pretty soon, we probably will go to that and then that question will kind of be moot."
Nowell said that by getting a COVID-19 vaccine, Navy members would be keeping fellow sailors, their shipmates and their families safe. He added that he said his entire family has been vaccinated.
Nowell also added that whether someone gets vaccinated or not won't affect their VA benefits.
"Regardless of whether they take the vaccine or not, if you're in the military, then we're responsible for your healthcare, okay?" Nowell said. "Once you get out and through the VA, the VA is still responsible for that. And so sometimes we'll hear if something does come up, where there's an issue with the vaccine, will I be covered? Of course, sailors would be covered, we don't anticipate that."
According to the Department of Defense reports close to 845,000 service members are now fully vaccinated.
This story was originally published by Erin Miller on Scripps station WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia.