Delta to impose $200 surcharge on unvaccinated employees in health care plan

A Delta Airlines Boeing 757 seen from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., makes its final descent into Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va., on July 14
Greg Nash

Delta Air Lines will require unvaccinated employees to get tested for COVID-19 each week and wear a mask in all indoor settings, the company announced in an internal memo Wednesday.

The airline will also subject unvaccinated employees enrolled in the company’s health care plan to a $200 monthly surcharge, and revoke COVID-19 pay protection for those who are not vaccinated. 

Delta’s vaccination push comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Monday, a move that was expected to trigger new vaccine requirements.

“I know some of you may be taking a wait and see approach, or waiting for full FDA approval. 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,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees in a company memo Wednesday.

The weekly testing requirement will go into effect on Sept. 12 and remain intact while community case rates are high. The health care surcharge will take effect on Nov. 1. 

Delta said that 75 percent of its workforce is already vaccinated. Its new vaccine policy is aimed at bringing that figure “as close to 100 percent as possible,” the company told employees. 

Delta is the second major airline to implement new vaccine rules. Earlier this month, United Airlines announced a stricter policy that requires all of its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Delta’s weekly testing requirement mirrors President Biden’s executive order in July that directed all federal workers to get vaccinated or submit to regular testing. Biden on Monday urged the private sector to follow his lead after the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine.

“Do what I did last month: Require your employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements,” Biden said. 

A small number of major companies, including CVS Health, Microsoft, Tyson Foods and Walt Disney, have announced vaccine requirements.

The delta variant is fueling a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths among the unvaccinated. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Tuesday found that unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated.

Tags COVID-19 Delta Air Lines Joe Biden mandate Pfizer requirement United Airlines Vaccine
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