Delta Air Lines has become the first U.S. carrier to mandate that all new employees be vaccinated for COVID-19, the airline said on Friday.
Current employees will not be subject to the new company rule, although Delta was quick to point out that 60 percent of its nearly 75,000 workers have already had at least the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
“Delta knows that vaccines are the best tool available to protect one another and bring an end to the pandemic, and the airline has made great progress to achieve herd immunity within its workforce,” the company said in a statement. “To help maintain this trajectory, Delta will require all new hires in the U.S. to be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they qualify for an accommodation, effective Monday, May 17.”
Delta noted that two out of 10 Americans have been infected by COVID-19, and one out of 1,000 Americans has died from the virus.
“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 stated.
Whether other airlines follow suit remains to be seen.
United is still considering a vaccine mandate for its employees, but no decision has been made, a spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch Friday in an email. The company has opened vaccination sites including at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to ensure its employees have access to the vaccine, the spokesperson added.
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