US companies tell employees to be vaccinated or face repercussions - including firings

CNN sacked three employees for entering offices while unvaccinated

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More US companies are mandating Covid-19 vaccinations among their staff amid a surge in coronavirus cases driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, with some businesses firing those who refuse to comply.

CNN this week sacked three unvaccinated staffers who had come to the office.

"In the past week, we have been made aware of three employees who were coming to the office unvaccinated. All three have been terminated," CNN president Jeff Zucker said in a company-wide email, The New York Times reported.

“Let me be clear — we have a zero-tolerance policy on this," he continued.

Mr Zucker is not the first. In July, a South Carolina hospital fired five unvaccinated staffers, and a New Jersey hospital sacked six supervisors. In June, more than 150 workers in a Houston hospital were fired or quit after refusing to take the shot.

Many large businesses want to at least partly reopen offices in the coming months, but rising cases and hospital admissions are nixing those plans.

The Delta variant has caused US infections to surge to about 100,000 daily, a return to levels last seen in February, while only 70 per cent of US adults have at least one vaccine dose.

Of the entire US population, 50 per cent are fully vaccinated, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

“As we look at our hospitalisations and as we look at our deaths, they are overwhelmingly unvaccinated people,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing on Thursday.

Amazon and Lyft have announced the longest wait for office reopenings, with staff expected to return in January and February respectively. Twitter said its New York City and San Francisco offices have been closed indefinitely.

Quote
You want to know how to put this virus behind us? I'll tell you how. We need to get more people vaccinated
US President Joe Biden

Companies with vaccination requirements will also require masks, physical distancing and constant Covid-19 testing if employees remain unvaccinated and offices reopen.

President Joe Biden said federal employees and contractors will have to be vaccinated or face regular testing.

“You want to know how to put this virus behind us? I'll tell you how,” Mr Biden said in remarks on July 29. “We need to get more people vaccinated.”

State and city governments in California and New York as well as several hospital systems are mandating immunisations for staffers and healthcare workers.

Alphabet, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Uber are among the Big Tech companies mandating vaccines among workers.

On Friday, United Airlines became the first US airline to mandate immunisations for its domestic employees.

Other large employers like Disney, Tyson Foods and WalMart are requiring vaccination for some staff members.

Joining CNN, news and media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post are asking for immunisation proof for entry into offices. Netflix is also mandating vaccination for all US productions.

Banks and investment firms including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, BlackRock and Jeffries are also requiring vaccination for entry into their offices.

The nation's largest court system, the Los Angeles County Superior Court, told employees they must be vaccinated to work — or they may face termination.

Many companies are mindful that some people cannot be immunised and have said they will work with those employees on a case-by-case basis.

The US Department of Justice said in late July it was not illegal for businesses to mandate vaccinations approved under a Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorisation, as all three vaccines available in the US are.

The department's Office of Legal Counsel says the law "does not prohibit public or private entities from imposing vaccine requirements, even when the only vaccines available are those authorised under EUAs."

The vaccines are proven to largely protect against transmission, severe illness and death.

Updated: April 27, 2022, 11:29 AM
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