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United reports airport vaccines for employee recalls as omicron spreads


United Airlines ramp services employee John Dalessandro receives a COVID-19 vaccine at United’s on-site clinic at O’Hare International Airport on March 9, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

United Airlines resumed offering staff vaccines at some of its busiest airports this week as the omicron variant continues to spread throughout the United States and its own ranks of employees.

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

The airline last August established the strictest vaccine requirements of any U.S. airline, telling staff to get vaccinated unless they get a religious or medical exemption, or are laid off. More than 96% of United’s 67,000 American employees have been vaccinated.

The company stopped its vaccination program at airports at the end of last summer.

“This is another step we are taking to educate our employees on the importance of boosters and make them readily available,” Scott said. The company is not currently changing its definition of fully vaccinated to include boosters, she said.

United’s relaunch of the airport vaccination program comes amid the rapid spread of sidelined omicron airline workers, contributing to 20,000 flight cancellations between Christmas Eve and the first week of January.

United CEO Scott Kirby said on Monday that 3,000 of the airline’s approximately 67,000 U.S. employees were not infected with Covid and that a third of its staff, on a recent day, at its hub in the Newark Liberty International Airport had called in patients with the virus. He said the company had recorded an average of one Covid-related death per week before the vaccine’s tenure and that no vaccinated United employees had died from virus-related causes in the past eight weeks.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said on Thursday that around 1 in 10 of its employees had tested positive for Covid in the past four weeks, but no serious health issues had been reported.

Delta offers vaccines to its staff as well as their friends and family at its flight museum near its Atlanta headquarters, spokesman Morgan Durrant said.


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