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United Airlines, first U.S. carrier to make vaccines mandatory for employees

Amy Christie

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United Airlines will require all its U.S. employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine shots by late October, maybe even sooner, thus joining other big corporations’ response to the new contagious variant.

Company leaders have stated that this is a safety matter and are using the “incredibly compelling’ evidence regarding vaccine effectiveness to impose the requirement, as reported by The Dallas Morning news.

What are the details?

“We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees. But the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated,” CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart said on Friday.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are currently encouraging their employees to get the COVID shot, but not requiring it, the two carriers said on Friday for the news outlet.

In March American Airlines was giving out $50 gift cards and an extra vacation day to be used in 2022 or 2023 for each employee who got immunized.

“What we’re doing there and what we’ve been doing from the start is putting great incentives in for our employees to be vaccinated. And that, we think, is the right way to motivate people to get vaccinated and we’re pushing that really hard,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said in the New York Times’ The Sway podcast this week.

United Airlines has 67,000 employees in the U.S. and is the first major airline to mandate vaccines for workers. The airline has made vaccination mandatory for new-hires since mid-June. Workers who did not get the vaccine must wear face masks at the company’s offices.

The airline has stated that almost 90% of its pilots and 80% of the flight attendants have already had the vaccine shots.

On Friday the airline told its employees that they have to be fully vaccinated by October 25 or five weeks after final approval is granted to any of the vaccines by the Food and Drug Administration.

Each employee will prove their status by sending an image of their vaccine card to the company. Those who don’t abide by this rule will be terminated. The only exemptions will be based on religious or health reasons. Employees who already have the vaccine or those who get both shots by September 20 will get an extra day of pay, as the news outlet points out.

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX
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