United brings back airport vaccines for employee boosters as omicron spreads

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  • United stopped providing vaccines to employees at airports late last summer.
  • More than 96% of the company’s roughly 67,000 US employees have been vaccinated following a company-wide mandate.

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United Airlines this week began offering staff vaccines again at some of its busiest airports as the Omron version continues to spread across the US and within its own employee ranks.

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The Chicago-based airline is administering COVID-19 booster shots at several of its busiest centers: Newark Liberty International Airport, George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Von Pat International Airport in Guam, spokeswoman Leslie Scott said. .

The airline last August established the strictest vaccine requirements of any US airline, asking employees to be vaccinated unless they get a religious or medical exemption, or face termination. More than 96% of United’s 67,000 US employees have been vaccinated.

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The company closed its airport vaccine program late last summer.

“This is another step we are taking to educate our employees on the importance of boosters and to make them easily accessible,” Scott said. The company is not currently changing its definition of vaccination solely to include boosters, she said.

The revival of United’s airport vaccination program comes as a rapid spread of airline workers laid off Omicron, contributing to 20,000 flight cancellations between Christmas Eve and the first week of January.

United CEO Scott Kirby said on Monday that 3,000 of the airline’s nearly 67,000 US employees were out of covid infection and a third of its employees reported ill with the virus in a recent day at its hub at Newark Liberty International Airport. He said the company averaged one Covid-related death per week prior to the vaccine mandate and that there had been no joint employee deaths from causes tied to the virus in the past eight weeks.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said on Thursday that nearly 1 in 10 of its employees had tested positive for Covid in the past four weeks, but no serious health issues were reported.

Delta provides vaccines to employees as well as their friends and families at its flight museum near its Atlanta headquarters, said spokeswoman Morgan Durant.

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