NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News Shipbuilding, one of the largest employers in Hampton Roads, has extended its COVID-19 vaccine deadline to January 4, 2022.
The shipyard previously announced that all of its roughly 25,000 workers will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 as a “condition of continued employment.” However, the deadline was extended in line with the extension provided by the federal government.
In a memo to employees, Huntington Ingalls President and CEO Mike Petters said,
If you’re among the roughly 75% of HII employees who are already fully or partially vaccinated against COVID-19, thank you. As vaccinations have gone up, case rates have dropped, and the worst outcomes of infection have dropped dramatically. You are safer and so are your families, teams and communities. It is the right thing to do.
He also encouraged employees who are not vaccinated and do not have an exemption, to not delay their vaccination.
Updated guidance from the White House released Sept. 24 says the mandates apply for contractors “except in limited circumstances where an employee is legally entitled to an accommodation.” Contractor employees working on a covered contract from home are also required to comply with the vaccination requirement.
Previously, the shipyard had been encouraging employees to get vaccinated and offering vaccine clinics on-site. They’re even raffling off “thank you bonuses” to fully vaccinated employees.
On November 12, Jennifer Boykin, President of of Newport News Shipbuilding released the following statement via Facebook:
Last week, Huntington Ingalls Industries President and CEO Mike Petters notified employees that the federal government extended the vaccination mandate deadline for federal contractors from Dec. 8 to Jan. 4. Based on what we learned from the government over the last 10 days, here is what we know:
The December 8 deadline no longer applies to federal government contractors, including NNS. As a result, all policies and processes NNS established to help shipbuilders meet the original mandate deadline are being assessed based on new guidance and will be communicated as we learn more.
We are currently tracking to the new January 4 deadline for the second shot. We continue to encourage full vaccination as we assess further guidance from the government. Our vaccination center will remain open, and 80% of our workforce has been vaccinated through the first shot, making for a safer workplace.We know this is a confusing and stressful time for everyone. And while new information has come out over the last three weeks, one key message remains the same: We don’t want to lose a single shipbuilder over the federal vaccine mandate.
HII and NNS leadership are working very closely with Navy and other government leaders to fully understand the evolving federal guidance. I remain committed to keeping you informed with updates that are as timely and transparent as possible.
Thank you for your patience and continued focus on our No Fail Mission as we come through what the federal vaccine mandate means for our shipbuilders and our business.