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USCG Specific Frequently Asked Questions

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COVID-19 | May 10, 2022

Mandatory Vaccination for Military Members FAQs

General

Q. Are unvaccinated members now allowed to attend “C” schools?
A: Unvaccinated members are authorized to attend "C" Schools specifically required for their assignment, as necessary to meet mission readiness requirements. No other "C" School training is authorized for unvaccinated members. FORCECOM, in consultation with the appropriate Program, will determine which schools are required to meet mission readiness requirements. Unvaccinated members may not be able to attend some required "C" schools if the entity providing the training prohibits unvaccinated member attendance. However, unvaccinated members must not obligate additional service, except as a result of executing PCS orders.

 

Q. I have an approved retirement/separation. Am I still required to be vaccinated?
A. Yes. The administrative exemption from deployment (mobility) immunization for service members within 180 days of separation or retirement does not apply to immunization from COVID-19.

 

Q. If I’m unvaccinated, and serving in a command position, will I be relieved?
A. The willingness of Commanding Officers, Officers in Charge, and senior leaders to support this direction through their own action is a relevant factor for consideration for continued fitness for command and other positions of leadership. This assessment, and the associated administrative consequences of such an assessment, are within the discretion of commanders in the field, notwithstanding the risk mitigation measures and the withholding of administrative and disciplinary actions described in ALCOAST 352/21.

 

Q. Can I meet the COVID-19 vaccine requirement through previous infection with COVID-19, or the results of an antibody test?
A. No. Because research is ongoing as to whether previous infection with COVID-19 confers lasting protection, previous COVID-19 infection is not considered proof of immunity. A history of COVID-19 disease and/or a positive antibody test or other positive test for COVID-19 does not exempt a Service Member from being required to be vaccinated for COVID-19. The only acceptable proof of immunity is completion of a COVID-19 vaccination series.

 

Q. If I have not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine, how soon must I be fully vaccinated?
A. As soon as operations allow, starting immediately. Commanders, Commanding Officers, and Officers in Charge shall direct unvaccinated Active Duty and Ready Reserve Coast Guard members to initiate the COVID-19 vaccination regimen immediately, and in doing so shall ensure members are scheduled and made available to receive the vaccine.

 

Q: Is the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all service members?
A: Yes. All Coast Guard active duty and Ready Reserve members who are not fully vaccinated, and do not fall within an approved exception, must now be vaccinated against COVID-19.

 

Q. If I am unvaccinated, can I get any vaccine I want?
A. Coast Guard Active Duty and Ready Reserve members may choose to receive any COVID-19 vaccine that is fully approved by the FDA, administered under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), or is included on the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing.

Coast Guard Active Duty and Ready Reserve members shall be provided any vaccine that has received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensure.

For now, if you receive any of these three vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen – in accordance with their dosing and timing requirements, you will be considered fully vaccinated.

 

Q. Given this mandate, am I still required to be vaccinated if I already had COVID-19?
A. Yes.  Previous COVID-19 infection does not satisfy the vaccine mandate.  Military members with previous COVID-19 infection are not considered fully vaccinated based solely on having been infected, and must be vaccinated. Consistent with the Secretary of Defense’s direction, all Coast Guard active duty and Ready Reserve members who are not fully vaccinated, and do not fall within an approved exception, must now be vaccinated against COVID-19.

 

Q: Do I need to do anything if I’m already fully vaccinated?
A: If you were vaccinated at a Coast Guard clinic, no further action is required.

If you were vaccinated by a non-Coast Guard provider before the order for mandatory vaccinations was issued and have not yet reported your status to a Coast Guard medical provider, you must do so as soon as possible. Those members who get vaccinated outside of a Coast Guard clinic shall provide the following information to their respective Coast Guard clinic: (1) date the vaccine was administered, (2) the vaccine name or code, (3) the manufacturer and lot number, (4) the dose administered, and (5) the vaccination provider (i.e. Walgreens, CVS, etc). Providing false vaccination information is a violation of Article 107, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and may also result in administrative and/or disciplinary action.

 

Q. How does withholding language in paragraph 7 of ALCOAST 305/21 affect a commander’s ability to endorse a re-enlistment or advancement request?
A: Commanders may account for a member’s refusal to follow an order to be vaccinated in the execution of routine administrative functions, including, but not limited to, endorsement of re-enlistment and advancement requests, short-tour requests, or requests to attend graduate programs. Commands may not address pending religious accommodation or medical exemption

requests in executing these routine administrative functions, nor shall commands rely on the fact that a member has a pending request to support denial or non-endorsement of such a request.

 

Q. How does withholding language in paragraph 7 of ALCOAST 305/21 affect a rating chain’s ability to hold unvaccinated members (i.e., members that have not initiated the vaccine regiment) accountable in evaluations.
A: A command may take into account a member’s refusal to follow an order to be vaccinated when completing regularly scheduled evaluations. Commands are reminded that, per Coast Guard Enlisted Evaluation System Procedure Manual, PSCINST M1611.2A, “For a mark of 2, 4, or 6, the member must meet all of the written standard in this mark…” and “A mark of 4 represents the expected performance level of all enlisted members.” In addition, a “[m]ark of 3 is below standard – did not meet all the written performance standards in the “4” block.” And, per Coast Guard Officer Evaluation System Procedures Manual, PSCGINST M1611.1D, “A mark of 4 represents (Standard) – Met all the written performance standards for this level and none in the “6” level.

Commands may not address pending religious accommodation or medical exemption requests in evaluations, nor shall commands rely on the fact that a member has a pending request to the detriment of the member when supporting any mark in an evaluation.

 

Policy/Authorities

Q. Why is the Coast Guard mandating military vaccinations?
A. Due to the highly transmissible nature of COVID-19 variants, it has spread widely among the unvaccinated populations, putting them at great risk. This negatively impacts the readiness of military units and increases demands on military hospitals and clinics.

Additionally, the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and very effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. As we do with other deadly infections, we want to protect Coast Guard personnel, our families, and our communities through the best tool available, vaccination. Further, a fully vaccinated workforce helps ensure mission readiness.  Required vaccination to protect personnel is routine for the Coast Guard, including annual influenza vaccination. In concert with Department of Defense (DoD) guidance, the Coast Guard currently requires vaccines for individuals entering military service and other vaccines depending on the Service member’s role and geographic region.

 

Q. What makes Service members different from federal employees when it comes to enforcing certain requirements?
A. Vaccine requirements are tied to personal medical readiness, and are designed to afford Service members with the best protections available so they can perform missions across the globe. 

Required vaccinations are nothing new to the U.S. military. In concert with Department of Defense (DoD) guidance, the Coast Guard currently requires vaccines for individuals entering military service and other vaccines depending on the Service member’s role and geographic region.

 

Q. What happens if a Service member refuses to get the vaccine?
A. The requirement to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 constitutes a lawful general order. Refusal by Coast Guard Active Duty and Ready Reserve members to fully vaccinate against COVID-19 in the timelines prescribed, absent an approved medical exemption or approved religious accommodation, will constitute a failure to obey a lawful general order. This order is punishable under Article 92 of the UCMJ, and may result in punitive and/or administrative action, including initiation of discharge proceedings.

The Coast Guard will determine additional measures necessary to mitigate health risks to members of the Service and our communities posed by those who are not yet vaccinated.


 

Distribution

Q. Does the Coast Guard have a plan to distribute and administer the vaccine to all Service members?
A. Yes. Continuing the Service’s ongoing efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, the Coast Guard will ensure that military members are administered the vaccine in a timely fashion.  Vaccines are readily available at Coast Guard clinics, military treatment facilities, and civilian healthcare providers.

 

Q. Are there enough vaccines available now to handle the surge in demand?
A. Yes. Vaccines are readily available at Coast Guard clinics, military treatment facilities, and civilian healthcare providers. Additional COVID-19 vaccines are being delivered to Coast Guard clinics to accelerate vaccination of the entire workforce and are available for any Active Duty or Ready Reserve member.