United Airlines will require its U.S.-based employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by this fall, according to a note from the company’s top executives.
Company leaders called it a matter of safety and cited “incredibly compelling” evidence of the effectiveness of the vaccines against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2 or the novel coronavirus, the pathogen that causes the disease COVID-19.
“We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees,” United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart said in a Friday note to employees, obtained by The Epoch Times. “But, we have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you’re at work, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.”
As an incentive, vaccinated employees of the air carrier who upload their vaccination records to a United database by Sept. 20 will be offered an extra day’s pay, according to the note.
United executives said in the note employees will need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 25 or five weeks after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants full approval to any one of the vaccines that are currently authorized for emergency use, whichever date comes first.
While United will allow exemptions on religious or health grounds, employees who don’t provide proof of vaccination by the designated deadline will be terminated.
According to United officials cited by CNBC, many of the company’s employees are already vaccinated, including roughly 90 percent of pilots and 80 percent of flight attendants.
With the move, United joins a bevy of companies that have mandated vaccines for employees, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Walmart.
It comes as the United States struggles with a surge in infections driven by the Delta variant of the CCP virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers more transmissible and potentially more resistant to vaccines.
The 7-day average of new reported COVID-19 cases has jumped to more than 90,000 a day from around 12,000 a month ago, although hospitalizations and deaths have risen more slowly.
Vaccine mandates have become a hot-button issue, with advocates welcoming them as a measure to help stem the spread of the CCP virus and protect vulnerable populations, while opponents object on a range of grounds, including that the vaccines are currently under emergency use authorization and that mandates infringe on personal liberties.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.