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(LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Navy has reversed its former policy requiring commanders to consider the COVID-19 vaccination status of sailors when making deployment decisions.  

The previous policy mandating consideration of vaccine status had been in place for more than a year. 

New “standard operation guidance” issued by the Navy “rescinds and replaces … the requirement that all personnel assigned to operational Navy units be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” as well as “the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for Department of the Navy Service members.”   

“Commanders should seek advice from medical providers regarding medical readiness of personnel to inform deployment and other operational mission decisions.  COVID-19 vaccination status shall not be a consideration in assessing individual service member suitability for deployment or other operational missions,” continued the statement.  

“Under no circumstances shall a Commander mandate that any Navy Service member receive the COVID-19 vaccination,” emphasized the guidance from the Secretary of the Navy. 

“I would tell you that we will continue to monitor very closely our fleet concentration areas with respect to COVID levels … particularly if there’s a new strain of COVID, we want to make sure that we have enough of the supplies on board like masks and those kinds of things that if we have to revert back to the way we’re doing things before the vaccine,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday told reporters at an event hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) and the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA).  

In December, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro had suggested that a repeal of the mandate would create two classes of sailors: those who were vaccinated and those who were not. USNI’s report on the new guidance underscored that there is to be “no distinction between sailors who are vaccinated and non-vaccinated.”   

In late January, Seapower Magazine reported that the Navy and Marine Corps had “halted administrative actions to discharge Sailors and Marines for refusing mandatory vaccination against the COVID-19 coronavirus variant.”  

“Commanders will immediately discontinue administrative separation processing of Marines solely for declining to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Capt. Ryan Bruce, a Marine Corps spokesperson, told Seapower in a January 20 email.   

The new guidance makes no mention of the possibility of reinstating sailors unvaccinated by choice for reasons of conscience who were discharged from the Navy during the mandate.