United Airlines to become first major airline requiring staff be vaccinated

United airlines will make vaccines required for staff this fall.
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United Airlines flight departs
United Airlines flight departs
(Robert Alexander / Getty Images)

United Airlines announced Friday that it will require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting this fall, making it the first major airline to do so.

"We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees,” United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart announced in a memo. "But, we have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you're at work, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated."

The order requiring proof of vaccination will go into effect five weeks after the Federal Drug Administration officially gives full approval of the COVID-19 vaccines, or by Oct. 25, whichever comes first, The Hill newspaper reports. The FDA is expects to start giving full approval as early as next month.

All of United's employees will need to get vaccinated, regardless of role, unless they are exempted for religious or medical reasons.

United said 80% of flight attendants and 90% of pilots are already vaccinated after they made it a requirement for new hires in June. Delta airlines also started requiring their new hires be vaccinated in May.

President Biden announced last week that all federal employees will be required to show proof of vaccination, or be subjected to weekly COVID tests, masking and social distancing, other companies have followed suit since.