United reintroduced airport vaccines for employee boosters as Omicron spreads

John D’Alessandro, a United Airlines Ramp Services worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine at the United Clinic at O’Hare International Airport on March 09, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

United Airlines began providing vaccines to employees again at some of its busiest airports this week as the omicron variant continues to spread across the United States and within its staff ranks.

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

The airline last August set the strictest vaccination requirements of any US airline, requiring employees to get vaccinated unless they receive a religious or medical exemption, or face termination. More than 96% of the 67,000 US employees have been vaccinated.

The company halted the vaccination program at the airport late last summer.

“This is another step we are taking to educate our employees about the importance of reinforcers and make them accessible,” Scott said. She said the company is not currently changing its definition of full vaccination to include boosters.

United’s revival of the airport vaccination program comes with the rapid spread of marginalized airline workers from Omicron, contributing to the cancellation of 20,000 flights between Christmas Eve and the first week of January.

United’s CEO Scott Kirby said on Monday that 3,000 of the company’s 67,000 US employees have recovered from a Covid infection and that a third of its employees in a recent day at its hub at Newark Liberty International Airport have called out sick from the virus. He said the company had recorded an average of one Covid-related death per week before the vaccine was authorized and that no US volunteer employees had died of virus-related causes in the past eight weeks.

About 1 in 10 of its employees have tested positive for Covid in the past four weeks, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian said Thursday, but no serious health problems have been reported.

Spokesman Morgan Durant said Delta provides employees as well as their friends and family with vaccinations at the Museum of Flight near its Atlanta headquarters.

Correction: Morgan Durant is a spokesperson for Delta Air Lines. Leslie Scott is a spokeswoman for United Airlines. An earlier version of this article misspelled that information.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo