United Airlines mandates all employees be vaccinated

Carrier, with 11K workers in N.J., is one of largest employers in state

United Airlines on Friday became the first major airline to mandate that all of its employees be vaccinated for COVID-19 — and it is offering extra incentive to do so. In addition to getting to keep your job, you get an extra day’s pay.

Even more, as CEO Scott Kirby pointed out in an email to employees, you will have greater health. Unvaccinated people, Kirby said, are about 50 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 than a vaccinated person and nearly 300 times more likely to die.

“Those stats are incredibly compelling and led us to an important decision about your safety: This fall, every U.S.-based United employee will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” he said.

All U.S.-based United employees will be required to upload a vaccine card showing you have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (or one dose of the J&J vaccine) five weeks after the FDA has announced it has fully approved a COVID-19 vaccine or five weeks after Sept. 20, whichever comes first.

The latest potential deadline for meeting this requirement would be Oct. 25. Kirby, however, pointed to reports that said the FDA is likely to announce its full approval for the vaccine early next month.

“So, the earlier timeline is more likely,” he said.

With approximately 11,000 employees based in New Jersey, United is one of the largest employers in the state.

Kirby acknowledged the decision may not be popular with some of those employees. He also acknowledged he has sent dozens of condolences letters to the family members of United employees who have died from COVID-19.

“We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees,” he said. “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.”