United Airlines will require all of its employees to be vaccinated. This requirement will be effective the sooner of 5 weeks after FDA full approval of a Covid-19 vaccine, or 5 weeks after September 20.
“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 Friday in an employee note. “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.”
United Airlines employees must upload proof that they received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s single dose five weeks after federal officials give full approval to them or by Oct. 25, whichever is first, the executives said. Exceptions will be made for certain health issues or religious reasons, United said.
The FDA is expected to fully approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next month, and the Moderna vaccine shortly after that.
CEO Scott Kirby said back in January that he wanted to require all employees to be vaccinated. He even said he’d imposed vaccinated-only seating sections but that the government won’t allow it.
In contrast, Delta says new employees only must be vaccinated, while Ameican doesn’t plan to require vaccination (though American CEO Doug Parker has said that competitive pressure could require them to change their position).
From a customer standpoint, knowing employees are vaccinated is comforting but most of the people you come into contact with are other customers, not employees, and there’ll be no requirement that all passengers are vaccinated.
In releasing new mask guidance, the CDC has said that vaccinated individuals may be just as likely to spread the virus when infected as unvaccinated individuals. However vaccine mandates are still helpful to protect others, and this CDC guidance was misleading,
- Vaccinated individuals are still less likely to be infected in the first place
- Even if viral loads are similar, vaccinated individuals who get infected appear to be infectious for shorter periods of time
Indeed the studies on which the CDC guidance is based are far from definitive, for instance the Provincetown study doesn’t necessarily show transmission from vaccinated individuals, involves mostly indoor activity (much of it was intimate activity).
More vaccination means less spread, and fewer virus mutations. It means less severe disease and fewer hospitalizations. It means less risk in the workplace and less transmission between employees and between employees and customers. However the degree of reduction in risk is in question, especially since the passenger you’re squeezed next to in a middle seat may not be vaccinated.