United Airlines imposes coronavirus vaccine on US employees
NEWARK, NJ – In the past 16 months, dozens of condolence letters have been sent to family members of United Airlines employees who have died from the coronavirus. And according to senior executives, the airline is determined to do everything possible to prevent another family from receiving a letter … including making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for its employees.
United on Friday announced that starting this fall, every employee based in the United States, including those at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, will need to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and upload their vaccination record to the company’s database.
The deadline is five weeks after the United States Food and Drug Administration announced it had fully approved a COVID-19 vaccine, or five weeks after September 20, “whichever comes first.”
CEO Scott Kirby and Chairman Brett Hart sent an explanation of the vaccine’s mandate to employees, which can be seen in full below.
UNITED LETTER TO EMPLOYEES
Throughout the pandemic, we have been direct and forthright with you about the steps we have taken to protect you and our customers from COVID-19. In the early days of the pandemic, the outcome of these decisions was uncertain as we had so little data on how the disease spread and how people were affected. Over the past nine months, however, we have learned a lot about this disease, including how vaccines are – by far – the most effective way to protect people from COVID-19. In fact, we now know that an unvaccinated person is about 50 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than a vaccinated person, and almost 300 times more likely to die.
These statistics are incredibly compelling and led us to an important decision regarding your safety: This fall, every United employee based in the United States will need to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and upload their vaccination record to Flying Together.
Here’s how it will work: All United employees based in the United States will need to upload a vaccination card showing that you received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (or one dose of the J&J vaccine) five weeks after the FDA announced that ‘she has fully approved a COVID-19 vaccine or five weeks after September 20, whichever comes first. Thus, the last potential deadline to meet this requirement is October 25. However, according to media reports, the FDA is likely to announce full approval for the vaccine early next month, so the earlier timeline is more likely.
For employees who are already vaccinated – and for those who get vaccinated and upload their records to Flying Together before September 20 – we will offer an extra pay day.
United pilots and flight attendants who have already received union-negotiated compensation for uploading their vaccination records are not eligible. United agents, 100% of whom have downloaded their vaccination cards, are also not eligible for this benefit.
From day one of the pandemic, you have been on the front line – at our airports and on our planes – taking care of our customers and each other. And to keep you safe, we’ve taken cutting-edge measures, including becoming the first airline to impose masks on employees, the first to introduce COVID-19 customer testing and contact tracing, and the first (and always the only one) to run our HEPA filtration systems during the entire embarkation and disembarkation process.
And after the FDA issued “emergency use authorizations” for the vaccines – where every piece of data collected to date confirms that these vaccines are safe and highly effective – we proactively promoted the benefits of vaccination to of our employees, helped thousands of you get vaccinations at our airport clinics and mandatory vaccinations for new employees and those of you traveling in a positive space for international travel.
Earlier this year, we said it was the right thing to do for United Airlines, and other companies, to require vaccines for employees. Over the past few weeks, you’ve probably read information about actions taken by federal, state, and local governments, Fortune 100 companies, higher education institutions, and healthcare groups to require vaccinations. And more than 50 medical groups now support these types of requirements, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Public Health Association.
We know that some of you will not agree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees. But we have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than keeping you safe while you are at work, and the facts are clear: Everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.
Over the past 16 months, Scott has sent dozens of condolence letters to family members of United employees who died from COVID-19. We are determined to do everything possible to try to prevent another United family from receiving this letter.
So here’s the gist: if you haven’t been vaccinated today, please visit the vaccines search engine on Flying Together, make an appointment and download your vaccination record. The vaccine is widely available, free, and fully covered by your United health insurance plan. And if you have already been vaccinated but have not uploaded your information, please do so now on Flying Together to be entitled to an additional day of payment.
Our management teams will be holding a series of town halls in the coming weeks to continue the conversation, we’ve posted a series of FAQs on Flying Together, and you can submit specific questions to the Help Hub.
Thank you for all you continue to do to take care of our customers and each other. Together, we will do our part to defeat this virus and continue our journey to become the best airline in aviation history.
Send local news tips and correction requests to [email protected]
Sign up for Patch email newsletters. Learn more about posting announcements or events to your local Patch site. Don’t forget to visit the Patch Newark Facebook page.