Navy leaders ask sailors to take COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Navy’s senior leaders are strongly encouraging sailors to roll up their sleeves — and receive a does of the new COVID-19 vaccine.

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In a message to the fleet, Adm. Mike Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations, said the vaccine is a proven and effective measure to protect the Navy and the nation “from this insidious threat.”

“I ask that every member of our Navy team strongly consider receiving the vaccine,” Adm. Gilday said. “By maximizing vaccination among our force and maintaining our mitigation measures of physical distancing, mask wearing and hand washing, we will begin the return to normal.”

Adm. Gilday said he will receive the vaccine soon after it is made available to senior leadership in the Pentagon.

The Naval Medical Center in San Diego received the first round of vaccines set aside for the Navy. Other shipments will soon follow at Navy hospitals in Pensacola, Fla., Portsmouth, Va. and Jacksonville, Fla.

Vaccinating the Navy’s health care workers and first responders will likely continue into January, Adm. Gilday said.

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“We will make the vaccine available more broadly through a tiered plan as soon as production ramps up, prioritizing those executing our most critical missions,” he said. “I ask for your patience until the vaccine is made available for you and your continued compliance with those health measures we currently have in place.”

The Navy is committed to being completely open and transparent about the vaccine plan, he said.

“We must remain vigilant even after the vaccinations occur,” he said.

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