NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Wednesday is the deadline for Newport News Shipbuilding employees to receive the Moderna vaccine. Employees who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8 could lose their job.
News 3 spoke with an employee who is encouraging his colleagues to get vaccinated if they haven't done so already.
This mandate from President Joe Biden impacts government employees and contractors. So far, we're told roughly 60% of shipyard employees have been vaccinated.
James Johnson, a shipyard employee, said, "Everybody has a choice to make, and please make the right one; that's how I feel. Please make the right choice."
He's talking about the choice to get vaccinated. According to Johnson, he said it's unfair that his fellow employees are not being considerate to others, refusing to get vaccinated.
"Regardless of how we all feel about a mandate, you have to think about your brothers and sisters that's on these boats going to other countries protecting us. Think about what they have to go through besides what we have to go through," said Johnson.
Some employees, however, are standing their ground. On October 15, workers rallied to protest the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, saying they're willing to lose their jobs.
"Their throwing away a life-changing career because you signed up for the shipyard. When we all pledged to become shipbuilders to build the department of this defense, we signed up for a career job," said Johnson.
Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding, said while everyone has a personal choice to make, she does not want to lose shipbuilders over this mandate.
"I don't want you to hold out hope that we will reverse this policy or extend the deadlines; we simply cannot. If you want to stay with Newport News Shipbuilding - and we want you to - it's important that you complete the vaccination process now," said Boykin.
"We all made a contribution to work here, so I say at the end of the day, get the shot," said Johnson.
Employees who want the shot can get vaccinated at vaccination clinics in the community. Employees must submit a paper or digital copy proof or other medical records that show when they received both shots.