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United becomes first major U.S. airline to mandate vaccines for employees

United Airlines will require its 67,000 U.S. employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 25 or risk being fired, CNBC reports.

Why it matters: It's the first major U.S. airline to impose a vaccine mandate, in a move that will likely increase pressure on its competitors to do the same.

  • Employees must upload proof of vaccination five weeks after the FDA offers full approval to the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, or by Oct. 25 — whichever comes first, according to CNBC.
  • Exemptions will be made for religious or health reasons.

The big picture: United is the latest in a string of corporate giants to announce a vaccine mandate, joining Tyson Foods, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Walmart and others.

The other side: American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told the New York Times' Kara Swisher that the company will offer incentives for employees to get vaccinated — such as an extra day of vacation and a $50 gift card — but does not plan on imposing mandates on either employees or customers.

What they're saying: “We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees,” United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart said in a letter to employees.

  • "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," they continued.
  • "Over the last 16 months, Scott has sent dozens of condolences letters to the family members of United employees who have died from COVID-19. We’re determined to do everything we can to try to keep another United family from receiving that letter.”

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