United Airlines Is Industry First To Require All Employees To Be Vaccinated Due to Delta Surge

United Airlines Boeing 787-10 stock photo
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In an industry first and amid a surge in Delta variant cases, United Airlines will require all its employees to be vaccinated by October 25 at the risk of being fired in the failure to do so.

See: NYC Is First in the Nation To Require Proof of Vaccine for Most Indoor Activities — How Will It Affect Businesses?
Read: Amid Delta Surge, Vanguard Offers Employees $1000 to Get Vaccine

CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart said they expected that some would disagree with the decision, but that the move was necessary to keep workers safe in a memo to employees today, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“The facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated,” the executives wrote. “Over the last 16 months, Scott has sent dozens of condolences letters to the family members of United employees who have died from COVID-19. We’re determined to do everything we can to try to keep another United family from receiving that letter.”

Employees must upload proof that they are fully vaccinated by October 25, and exceptions will be made for certain health issues or religious reasons, United said, according to CNBC.

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Since June, United had required that only newly hired employees be vaccinated, a policy that Delta Airlines also implemented, according to the WSJ.

Following the surge in the Delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on masks. Last week, the CDC recommended for fully vaccinated people to wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.

Since then, several companies have taken new steps to address recommendations.

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Earlier this week, Tyson Foods said it would require its team members at U.S. office locations to be fully vaccinated by October 1, 2021, and all other team members are required to be fully vaccinated by November 1, 2021, according to a statement. This action makes Tyson Foods the largest U.S. food company to require COVID-19 vaccinations for its entire workforce, the company added.

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“We did not take this decision lightly,” the company said in a memo to employees posted on its website. “We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated – today, under half of our team members are. We take this step today because nothing is more important than our team members’ health and safety, and we thank them for the work they do, every day, to help us feed this country, and our world.”

In addition, some retailers, including Target, Walmart, Kohl’s and Apple, are reverting to requiring masks. Many of these chains had dropped the mask requirements in May.

Learn: Goldman Sachs Asks Employees to Inform Firm of Vaccination Status
Find: US Adds 943,000 Jobs in July, Bringing Unemployment Down to 5.4%

Finally, an increasing number of employers, including Google, are mandating vaccines in order to return to work. Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a memo to employees last week, sharing two updated company policies. First, anyone coming to work on Google campuses will need to be vaccinated. The policy is being rolled out in the U.S. in the coming weeks and will expand to other regions in the coming months, according to the memo. Secondly, the company said it was extending its global voluntary work-from-home policy through Oct. 18.

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Last updated: August 6, 2021

About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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