An internal email sent out to members of a U.S. warship last month suggests that sailors who elect to receive COVID-19 vaccinations could receive less-strict pre-deployment quarantine in the future.

While Navy officials emphasize that any such policy change remains under consideration, an email sent out to the weapons department of the guided-missile destroyer Chafee last month and obtained by Navy Times lays out how vaccinated sailors could affect quarantine time before a unit deploys.

The email, sent by the ship’s weapons officer, states that — as of the Jan. 26 email — sailors who get vaccinated could undertake their two-week pre-deployment “Restriction of Movement,” or ROM, at home.

“Sailors that do not have the vaccine will have to ROM entirely on the ship,” the email adds.

It also states that vaccinated sailors would come to work and stand duty during ROM, but be able to go home when the workday was done, offering that much more time with loved ones before a deployment commences.

Officials declined to address the Chafee email regarding ROM and vaccine, but said in a statement that policies will be tweaked as the vaccine rolls out and more people get the jabs.

“As the vaccine becomes more widely available and more information about the spread of COVID-19 within a vaccinated population becomes known, rules and policies both on and off-base may change, potentially affecting restriction of movement, leave and liberty policies,” Cmdr. Myers Vasquez, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, said. “We expect updated guidance in the coming weeks.”

Chafee recently suffered a COVID outbreak while transiting from Hawaii to San Diego for training. The ship’s entire crew was placed into quarantine late last week.

Because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are only approved as part of an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Navy cannot force sailors to take the vaccine.

The Defense Department has declined to say precisely how many servicemembers have received the vaccine since they came online in December.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID vaccination site shows that 807,025 vaccine doses have been distributed to DOD, but that just 490,377 have been administered.

But as of a few weeks ago, two out of three sailors who were offered the vaccine had taken it, according to a Jan. 19 message to the fleet by Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, deputy chief of operations for operations, plans and strategy.

The message told leaders to bring in medical personnel to answer any questions sailors had about the vaccines, and to consider conducting surveys to better assess reasons why sailors would decline the shots.

Surveys and all-hands messaging had increased the “take rate” at one type community by 9 percent, Sawyer wrote.

Commands should consider a “shot-exercise” to ensure that those looking to get vaccinated move smoothly through their military medical facility, he wrote, and lists of those looking to get the vaccine should be provided to medical each day “to ensure 100 percent utilization of thawed vials.”

Across the military, the loss rate for vaccines “has been negligible,” Air Force Brig Gen. Paul Friedrichs, the Pentagon’s joint staff surgeon, told Military Times last week.

“We certainly have not lost any vaccines because they’re sitting on the shelf,” he said.

While the vaccine remains voluntary, Navy social media accounts and leadership have been nudging the fleet to get the shot when they become eligible.

“The COVID-19 vaccine will help stop the pandemic,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith said in a video with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday late last month. “Sailors who have received the vaccine have stepped up and taken action to protect themselves, their shipmates, the Navy and our Nation. And for that we commend you.”

Gilday noted that he and MCPON had both received the vaccine, and that less than 1 percent of the force had tested positive for the coronavirus, a testament to how sailors have handled the pandemic.

“Together, along with this vaccine and your continued vigilance, we will sink COVID,” Gilday said.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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