Delta Air Lines is changing its employee vaccination policy and will require workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine or pay $200 extra a month for health insurance.
For months, the Atlanta-based carrier has been encouraging its employees to get the vaccine, with 75% fully inoculated. In a memo sent to employees on Wednesday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian outlined the new requirements for unvaccinated employees:
- Effective September 12, unvaccinated workers will need to take a COVID test every week until cases stabilize. Anyone who receives a positive result will be required to isolate.
- Beginning November 1, employees who are not fully vaccinated will have to pay an extra $200 monthly surcharge for the company’s account-based healthcare plan. The charge will cover the financial risk taken on by Delta for having unvaccinated employees. In the past few weeks, all workers hospitalized with the virus were not vaccinated, costing the airline an average of $50,000 per person, according to the company.
- Starting September 30, COVID-19 pay protection will only cover fully inoculated employees experiencing a breakthrough case. This is in line with local and state laws.
- Also starting Wednesday and until infection rates are lower, Delta will require unvaccinated employees to wear masks in all indoor Delta facilities.
Since May, the airline has required all new hires to get vaccinated before joining the company, though it did not have rules for current employees until now. For the past few weeks, the carrier says it has closely followed the surge in cases and recognizes the challenges that come with the delta variant. Delta’s chief health officer, Dr. Henry Ting, described it as a “heat-seeking missile” preying upon the unvaccinated in the memo.
“With this week’s announcement that the FDA has granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine, the time for you to get vaccinated is now,” Bastian said in a memo. “Protecting yourself, your colleagues, your loved ones and your community is fundamental to the shared values that have driven our success for nearly a century. Vaccinations are the safest, most effective, and most powerful tool we have to achieve our goals, live up to our values, and move forward.”
In addition to getting roughly three-quarters of its workforce fully inoculated, Delta has made significant efforts to support its local community and stop the spread of the virus. In partnership with the state of Georgia, the airline has administered more than 115,000 doses to residents at its Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, making it the largest mass vaccination site in the state.
Furthermore, Delta has invested $500 million for testing, vaccines, and pay protection for workers. It has provided over 389,000 COVID tests for individuals, and given more than 150,000 vaccine doses to employees, and their friends and family, in clinics across the country.