Two major U.S. airlines will begin vaccinating their respective workforces against COVID-19 using the freshly-approved, single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, starting in the city of Chicago.
Both American Airlines and United Airlines are set to begin offering inoculations to their Windy City employees as early as March 11. American Airlines disclosed that its vaccines are being supplied by the Chicago Department of Public Health for distribution at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
“We’re incredibly proud of the essential work our team members have been doing throughout the pandemic, and we’re thrilled to [be] able to provide COVID-19 vaccination opportunities for our team at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) starting this week,” an American Airlines spokesperson told Travel + Leisure, “As we continue to work tirelessly to connect team members across our operation with vaccines as soon as possible, we’re grateful to Mayor Lightfoot and our partners at the Chicago Department of Public Health and Premise Health who’ve helped make this happen for the American Airlines team in Chicago.”
United will be partnering with the city and local health department on vaccine distribution, and will initially make immunizations available by reservation to its workers over 65 years of age, and flight crew members working or residing in Chicago. This is likely just a first-stage effort for the airlines, which may eventually require COVID-19 of all its employees.
These aren’t the only U.S. carriers that are prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations for their employees. In February, Delta Air Lines began immunizing qualifying staffers in Atlanta and opened a mass vaccination site at the Delta Flight Museum in Georgia for eligible area residents. Southwest Airlines has also promised to vaccinate its workers for free once vaccines are made widely enough available
On a global level, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for aviation sector employees to be categorized as essential workers as worldwide vaccination efforts advance. Singapore Airlines has made a push to vaccinate its entire customer-facing workforce for free and, last month, Ethiad Airways became the world’s first airline to vaccinate 100 percent of its onboard crew members.
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