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Delta Mandates COVID Vaccine for New Hires

Fresh off the news that it topped the JD Power ranking as the No. 1 airline in the nation, Delta Air Lines said it will require new employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine, making it one of the largest US companies to issue a vaccination mandate.

CEO Ed Bastian said, "Any person joining Delta in the future we will mandate to get vaccinated before they can sign up with the company."

Bastian told CNN that he would "strongly encourage" Delta's existing 75,000 employees to get the vaccine and help them "understand the risk to not get vaccinated."  Employees who choose to not get the vaccine might face restrictions, such as not being able to work international flights.

He said that more than 60 percent of the airline's current employees have had at least one shot and that the company expects that about 80 percent of employees will be fully vaccinated.

The Atlanta-based airline has been proactive in its efforts to help combat the global pandemic.  It opened a vaccination center in February at its museum near the airport.  Besides Delta employees, their friends, families and eligible children are able to get vaccinated at the facility; and approximately 5,000 shots per day are administered there.

"It signals confidence that we're doing everything we can to keep them safe as well as to keep our customers safe because customers knew Delta employees were being tested all throughout the process," Bastian said of the airlines' testing and vaccination procedures.

As the nation continues to move toward fully reopening and anyone 12 years or older have ready access to the vaccine, businesses have been told they can legally mandate new or existing staff to be vaccinated.

In December 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced companies can legally mandate employees and new hires be vaccinated, with two exceptions: a disability or religious reasons. 

While more than 70 percent of major company CEOs said in March that they are open to the requirement, a number of the nation’s largest employers are offering incentives instead of issuing a mandate. 

Delta competitor American Airlines is giving employees who get vaccinated an extra day off next year and $50 in the company's employee recognition program.  Retailer Target (TGT) is giving its workers free Lyft rides to vaccination sites.