DOD Employees publicly demonstrate opposition to COVID-19 mandates

DOD Employees publicly demonstrate opposition to COVID-19 mandates By Patricia Farris, News Review Publisher

A number of Department of Defense employees have been demonstrating their opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the last several weeks, every weekday near the China Lake gate.

A spokesman for the group, Reid Stevens, stated clearly that they are not opposing the vaccine but believe individuals have a right to choose whether or not they wish to be vaccinated.

From twenty to fifty people representing the China Lake workforce are regularly seen at the site carrying American Flags and signs stating their case.

In observing the protest, one notes a lot of visible support from passers-by with the honking of horns, smiles and waves.

Employees are regularly receiving messages by email informing them of the latest COVID-19 mandates and procedures.

As of Nov. 3rd, the most current COVID-19 update was released. This message references, ALL HANDS, previous messages have referenced the recipients as TEAM MATES. The Nov. 3rd message came from the Deputy Command. It reads as follows ... Note: This message is intended for NAVAIR CIVILIAN personnel only. Military personnel policy and procedures have been released, and contractor guidance is being issued separately.

All hands,

Below is the latest information on vaccination attestation, medical and religious exceptions and timekeeping for vaccinations.

We will continue to bring you updates as details become available. As always, thank you for your continued patience as we continue to adapt to the evolving COVID-19 response environment.

Vaccination Attestation

All DoD civilians – no later than 9 Nov, regardless of vaccination status, disposition of vaccination exception requests or intent to receive vaccination – are required to update their vaccination status by completing the DD3175 form in milConnect. If you need to change your status from spouse, dependent, retiree or reservist to civilian, review this guide.

Please do NOT give your supervisor a digital or physical copy of your vaccination card. While we are awaiting new document handling guidance, supervisors can still verify vaccination by doing a visual inspection of the information via TEAMs or in-person.

If you are fully vaccinated and have not shown proof to your supervisor, you can confirm your vaccination status through the following steps: click block 3a (fully vaccinated), skip 3c (provided proof to supervisors), click block 5 (certification information is true and correct) and hit submit.

Employees and supervisors will be notified when to update and verify vaccination status in MilConnect if necessary.

Supervisors, if you have already received vaccination documentation, click here for a guide on how to safely store vaccination records.

Vaccination Exceptions

On 29 Oct 2021, the Under Secretary of Defense issued updated and superseding guidance through Force Health Protection Supplement 23, Revision 2. Per that guidance, civilian employees who intend to request a vaccine exception must submit their requests no later than 8 Nov, absent extenuating circumstances, to be considered timely. We recognize this is a change from previously published exception deadline guidance. A civilian employee’s failure to submit a timely request for exemption is not a basis to deny a request, but may be relevant in evaluating the request.

To submit a request for exception, download the Reasonable Accommodation Request form (for medical exceptions) or the Vaccine Exception for Religious Reasons to your computer and select “enable all features.” Submit your request to your supervisor, who will then forward the documentation to the servicing Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)/Reasonable Accommodations POC. Note: A supervisor’s signature does not constitute approval. Supervisors and local EEO specialists will work with employees to ensure requests contain the necessary information to enable a fair and reasonable assessment.

Most medical reasonable accommodation requests require medical documentation that must be handled appropriately and confidentially. Medical documentation is typically a letter from a physician on the physician’s letterhead explaining the employee’s limitations and providing suggestions for accommodations. Files will be maintained as confidential medical information (physical and/or digital) within the servicing EEO Office.

The Navy is finalizing evaluation procedures, roles/responsibilities and timelines for processing requests. The DoN Office of EEO has directed commands to wait for final guidance before evaluating requests.

Timekeeping Guidance for Vaccine

DoN employees are not required to request leave to become vaccinated against COVID-19. Instead, you can get COVID-19 vaccination doses on regular duty time during the course of your normally scheduled workday.

In most circumstances, you can take up to four hours to travel to the vaccination site, complete a vaccination dose and return to work—for example, up to a total of eight hours of regular duty time if you receive two doses. If you need to spend less time getting the vaccine, only the needed amount of duty time will be granted. If you take longer than four hours, you will need to document the reasons for the additional time (e.g., traveling long distances to get the vaccine). Admin leave may be authorized for employees for up to four hours to receive the booster.

If you experience an adverse reaction to the vaccine dose that prevents you from working, you may be granted up to two days of admin leave. If you request more than two days to recover, you may use other appropriate leave (i.e., sick leave) to cover the absence.

Up to four hours of admin leave per dose may also be granted for accompanying a family member to receive the vaccine; please obtain advance approval from your supervisor to use admin leave.

DoN Civilian Employee Assistance Program

We understand this is a difficult and stressful time. If you need support, reach out to the DoN Civilian Employee Assistance Program (DONCEAP) at 1-844-DON-CEAP/1-844-366-2327 or www.MagellanAscend.com.

Thank you and take care,

Human Capital Management Dept . ­—

It has been a concern that this mandate may lead to a significant number of personnel leaving China Lake.

Some members of the China Lake work force have told the News Review that they are planning early retirements because of their unwillingness the get the vaccine. Others have said that they are planing to leave the area.

Laura Austin photo: A number of China Lake employees spend their lunch hour on weekdays demonstrating their opposition to the COVID-19 mandates. They stage their protest at the intersection of China Lake Blvd. and Inyokern Road.

Story First Published: 2021-11-05