Boeing has become the first aircraft manufacturer to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all US-based employees. The move means over 125,000 of the company’s employees will now have to show proof of vaccination or request an exemption by December 8th to continue working. Increasing numbers of US airlines and companies have mandated vaccines as the federal government pushes to get more inoculated.
According to Reuters, Boeing has announced that it will require all of its US-based employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8th at the latest. The company will make exemptions for those with a valid reason, such as disabilities or religious beliefs, but has not signaled that it would approve testing for those who choose to remain unvaccinated.
With over 125,000 employees spread across dozens of sites, Boeing’s mandate will be far-reaching. However, the decision follows President Biden’s Executive Order requiring all federal contractors to be fully vaccinated to continue working. Considering Boeing’s significant business with the government as a federal contractor, the decision is not surprising.
With its move, Boeing joins the ranks of major carriers like United, American, Southwest, JetBlue, and parts manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems. The coming weeks will likely see more companies announce mandates as the pressure increases.
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However, the path to mandating vaccines may not be as simple as it seems. Boeing and other companies have found themselves in a political maelstrom, with local governments and even some unions uneasy about the restrictions. For example, while the Biden administration requires federal contractors to be vaccinated, Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently issued an order banning such mandates.
This means Tuesday’s announcement does not cover Boeing’s 5,000 or so Texas-based employees. However, they will be as soon as the status of the mandate is clarified in the coming weeks. Overall, enforcing vaccine mandates can be challenging, given the political resistance.
For now, the company will be hoping to increase its vaccine uptake and prevent disruptions to the fragile supply chains. In a statement responding to the mandate, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace union said that it is,
“Talking with employers to ensure implementation gives proper consideration to members concerns, health issues and abides by the provisions of our negotiated contracts.”
While there is a debate about whether airlines and companies should mandate vaccines, the future is clear. US airlines have been pushing mandatory vaccinations for months and now, others across the globe are catching up too. With European airlines also beginning to require COVID-19 vaccines, it’s becoming clear that the future will see all major carriers have the same requirements. Indeed, for travel to reopen safely, vaccines are the best bet to keep people flying and making a full recovery.
What do you think about vaccine mandates for airlines and manufacturers? Let us know in the comments!