United returns vaccines at airports for employee boosters as omicrons spread

United Airlines ladder operator John Dalessandro receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a local United Airlines clinic at O’Hare International Airport on March 9, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

This week, United Airlines began again offering vaccines to staff at some of its busiest airports as the omicron option continues to roll out across the US and to its own employees.

The Chicago-based airline is providing booster shots for Covid-19 at several of its busiest hubs: Newark Liberty International Airport, George Bush/Houston Intercontinental Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Won Pat International Airport, according to spokesman Leslie Scott. on Guam.

The airline last August set the most stringent vaccine requirements of any U.S. airline, requiring staff to get vaccinated unless they receive a religious or medical exemption or face layoffs. More than 96% of United’s 67,000 US employees have been vaccinated.

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

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

United’s resurgence in its airport vaccination program is due to the rapid proliferation of omicron airline workers, which resulted in the cancellation of 20,000 flights between Christmas Eve and the first week of January.

United CEO Scott Kirby on Monday said 3,000 of the airline’s roughly 67,000 U.S. employees have not contracted the coronavirus, and that a third of its employees reported in one of their last days at its hub at Newark Liberty International Airport that they had contracted the virus. He said the company averaged deaths from Covid-19 a week prior to the introduction of the vaccination mandate, 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 about 1 in 10 of its employees have tested positive for Covid in the past four weeks, but no major health issues have been reported.

Delta is offering vaccines to employees and their friends and families at its flight museum near its Atlanta headquarters, spokesman Morgan Durrant said.

Correction: Morgan Durrant is a Delta Air Lines representative; Leslie Scott is the spokesperson for United Airlines. This information was distorted in an earlier version of this article.

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