Vaccinations against COVID-19 are now mandatory for any new employees of Delta Airlines.
“This is an important move to protect Delta’s people and customers, ensuring the airline can safely operate as demand returns and as it accelerates through recovery and into the future,” the airline said in a statement.
The requirement will not apply to current employees, although more than 60 percent have already gotten at least one dose, CEO Ed Bastian said.
“We’re well on our way. I would expect we will get somewhere between 75 to 80 percent of our employees vaccinated,” Bastian told CNN. “I’m not going to mandate and force people if they have some specific reason why, but I’m going to strongly encourage them so that they understand the risks to not getting vaccinated.”
Bastian said he doesn’t think mandating current employees to take the step is fair, but anyone hoping to join the company will do so with an understanding that it is required.
“Any person joining Delta in the future, we’re going to mandate they be vaccinated before they can sign up with the company,” he said.
Current employees who refuse to get vaccinated could suffer some consequences because of their decision, he said.
“For example, you probably will not be able to fly an international flight if you are not vaccinated because it’s going to be mandated by local authorities to get into the country,” he said.
Delta has been at the forefront of companies aggressively attacking the coronavirus pandemic. It converted its air museum in Atlanta into a testing site, then converted it into a vaccination site once vaccines became available.
In addition, the parking lot at the museum offers drive-thru vaccinations and accommodates up to 5,000 people a day, Bastian said.
“Delta knows that vaccines are the best tool available to protect one another and bring an end to the pandemic,” the airline said.
Delta calls the move to require new employees to be vaccinated an important move to protect fellow employees and customers.
“The vaccines are not only extremely effective in preventing illness and symptoms from COVID-19, but they are also nearly 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death,” Delta said. “Vaccines are safe, effective, and essential to the future of the airline and our world.”
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