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99.5% of United employees are now vaccinated

The very high compliance rate indicates that the vaccine requirements are working, the airline reports.

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UEmployees of nited Airlines had until September 27 to be fully immunized or face dismissal. True to its word, on September 27, United began the process of firing the 593 employees who had not yet provided the company with proof of their immunization status. But within 48 hours, that number dropped to just 320 employees, meaning that 99.5 percent of the company’s 67,000 U.S. employees have now chosen to be vaccinated, excluding those who requested a medical or religious exemption (3 percent, according to the Associated Press).

Thus, less than 1% will be made redundant, which officials say would not affect airline operations.

“Our vaccination policy continues to prove that the requirements work,” United said in a statement sent to AFAR.

United gave its employees five weeks to be fully immunized after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on August 23.

“Vaccines are – by far – the most effective way to protect people from COVID-19,” United CEO Scott Kirby and Chairman Brett Hart said in an Aug. 6 note to airline employees, seen by AFAR. “We know that some of you will not agree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees. Corn . . . the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated, ”the memo reads.

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United isn’t the only airline pushing for vaccinations. In May, Delta Air Lines announced it would require all new hires in the United States to be vaccinated against COVID-19 “unless they are eligible for accommodation.”

In August, Delta said that starting in November, it would charge employees in the company’s health plan an additional $ 200 per month if they did not get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Senior airline executives say the new policy is necessary because the average hospital stay for the virus costs the airline $ 40,000. Starting September 12, Delta is demanding that unvaccinated workers be tested weekly (the airline will cover the cost of the testing), and it will stop extending wage protection to unvaccinated workers who contract COVID-19 as of the 30th. September.

Delta’s director of health, Dr Henry Ting, said about 20,000 employees were unvaccinated when the company announced plans for the surcharge. In the past month, nearly 9,000 of those 20,000 received at least one injection. About 82.5% of Delta’s 75,000 employees are fully immunized. Fewer than five workers requested a medical exemption and no one requested a religious exemption, Ting said.

“The first 20,000 were very impatient, and we got to about 70% [vaccinated] pretty quickly, “Ting said, but the remaining unvaccinated employees” are a very different group. “

Ting said many of the holdouts are “not anti-vaccines.” They were on the fence, they are afraid, they want to make their own decision on their own schedule. “

On August 6, budget airline Frontier Airlines said it is also demanding that all of its employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1.

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“As we continue to observe the rapid increase in new cases of COVID-19 across the United States caused by the Delta variant, I am concerned for the well-being of our team members, their families and friends.” , Barry Biffle, President and Chief Executive Officer. of Frontier Airlines, said in a statement.

Frontier employees who choose not or cannot be vaccinated will be asked to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test on a regular basis.

Other travel agencies promoting vaccinations include the Amtrak National Rail System, which requires that all new hires present proof of vaccination, effective October 4, and that by November 22, all existing employees be fully vaccinated or undergo a weekly COVID-19 test. Currently, around 60 percent of its workers have had at least one injection.

On September 9, President Joe Biden announced that companies with more than 100 workers will have to demand vaccinations, a federal mandate that could affect up to 100 million Americans, the Associated Press reported. The Biden administration said businesses would face fines of $ 13,600 per violation and mandatory weekly testing would be the alternative to vaccination.

Neither American Airlines nor Southwest Airlines have indicated whether they will require vaccination or offer testing as an alternative. But the president of the American Airlines union has warned that “massive layoffs” of unvaccinated pilots could lead to a pilot shortage during the December vacation.

Associated Press contributed reporting.

>> Next: These Hawaii, Caribbean and New York Hotels Now Require Vaccination

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Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes

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