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A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman receives the COVID-19 vaccine on March 11, 2021.
A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman receives the COVID-19 vaccine on March 11, 2021. (Nathan Burke/U.S. Navy)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Of the more than 4,400 midshipmen who make up the Naval Academy brigade, 99.6% are vaccinated against the coronavirus and the few who aren’t are seeking medical and religious exemptions as allowed by Navy policy.

This week the Navy updated its guidance on how to handle sailors who refuse to vaccinate against COVID-19 without an approved or pending exemption, saying they will be separated from the service. The vaccine became mandatory in August and the deadline to complete vaccination is Nov. 28.

USNA Public Information Officer Commander Alanas Garas said this week that the vast majority of the brigade is vaccinated, and the few students who are not are seeking religious or medical exemptions. If their exemption is denied, they will have five days to begin vaccination, according to a media release from the Navy.

Garas said decisions about separating midshipmen will be centralized under the COVID Consolidated Disposition Authority, which is the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs for midshipmen. Those who have incurred a service obligation for their education may be required to repay the cost of that education if separated, Garas said in an email.

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