Delta Requiring New Employees To Get Vaccinated

Delta Requiring New Employees To Get Vaccinated

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While a countless number of airline executives have talked about how they’d like employees to be vaccinated (and some have even given employees a small incentive), one airline has taken a major step to actually requiring it.

Delta new hires need to be vaccinated

It has been announced that as of Monday, May 17, Delta will require all new hires in the United States to be vaccinated against coronavirus, unless they qualify for an accommodation.

The Atlanta-based airline explains that the vaccine is the best tool available to achieve herd immunity within its workforce, and the company hopes that this new policy will allow it to “maintain this trajectory.” The airline claims that requiring new hires to be vaccinated is an important move to protect Delta’s people and customers, and to ensure the airline can safety operate as demand returns through recovery and into the future.

Delta won’t require existing employees to get vaccinated

Delta’s mandatory vaccination policy won’t apply to existing employees, but rather only to new hires. As Delta CEO Ed Bastian explains in an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest:

“I’m not going to mandate and force people if they have some specific reason they don’t want to get vaccinated, but I’m going to strongly encourage them and make sure they understand the risks to not getting vaccinated.”

So, how many employees have chosen to get vaccinated? Delta claims that more than 60% of employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the company hopes that 75-80% of employees will be vaccinated.

Am I the only one who is kind of underwhelmed by the 60% number?

  • As of now, over 47% of the population has received at least one dose; however, it’s much closer to 60% of the eligible adult population, meaning that Delta employees aren’t actually getting vaccinated at that much faster of a pace than the general population
  • All American adults have been eligible to be vaccinated for about four weeks now, and appointments are easy to come by, so it’s not like Delta employees haven’t had a chance to get vaccinated; heck, just look at how empty Delta’s vaccination center is in the above video
  • You’d think airline employees would recognize the role that the vaccine plays in consumer confidence and their livelihoods, and that this would make getting vaccinated a priority
  • I at least generally tend to think of frontline airline employees as being reasonably street smart and worldly, in the sense that they interact with people all day from all walks of life, and therefore figure they’d be less likely to fall for internet conspiracy theories, etc. (this is probably just wishful thinking on my part)
  • While there isn’t any official data I’ve seen, I’ve heard from several sources that vaccine uptake among pilots isn’t particularly high, which is… unfortunately not that surprising?

Bottom line

Delta will require all newly hired employees to be vaccinated, making Delta the first airline in the USA to have such a requirement. However, what I found equally interesting is that only 60% of Delta employees have even gotten one dose of the vaccine.

You’d think these people would recognize the connection between the vaccine and their livelihood, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for a large percentage of Delta employees.

Am I the only one who is surprised/disappointed that more Delta employees haven’t chosen to get vaccinated?

Conversations (59)
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  1. Aaron

    To all of you who say "if you don't want to get vaccinated, don't work for Delta". Take your advice and then "don't fly Delta if you know 100% of the employees aren't vaccinated ". It's hypocritical.

  2. Becky

    This is madness and will not be flying Delta again!!! People saying don't apply for a position with Delta if you don't agree. Pilots come out of college with upwards of $75,000 of extra cost on their tuition. If they don't comply they never have a chance of working for their dream company.
    The above comment about not being able to have facial hair or a tattoo! Did you really just make that comparison...

    This is madness and will not be flying Delta again!!! People saying don't apply for a position with Delta if you don't agree. Pilots come out of college with upwards of $75,000 of extra cost on their tuition. If they don't comply they never have a chance of working for their dream company.
    The above comment about not being able to have facial hair or a tattoo! Did you really just make that comparison between facial hair and an experimental NOT FDA approved shot! There is NO proof that this shot is safe and effective.

  3. Don Wilson

    First and foremost the COVID-19 vaccine has only been approved for emergency use only. None of the pharmaceutical companies are responsible for any complications and or death related to taking said vaccine. Furthermore, you cannot be forced to take a vaccine that has not been officially approved by the FDA. Finally, since these COVID-19 vaccines have not been properly tested (i.e., animal and human trials were minimally tested). So, in the end everyone who takes...

    First and foremost the COVID-19 vaccine has only been approved for emergency use only. None of the pharmaceutical companies are responsible for any complications and or death related to taking said vaccine. Furthermore, you cannot be forced to take a vaccine that has not been officially approved by the FDA. Finally, since these COVID-19 vaccines have not been properly tested (i.e., animal and human trials were minimally tested). So, in the end everyone who takes the vaccine becomes part of the human testing, yes that is correct you are a guinea pig.

  4. StopMisinformation

    HIPAA prohibits health professionals, such as your doctor, from sharing your identified health information without your permission. Nonetheless, people/private businesses can always ask about your health information, and you can almost always decline to answer. But not answering health questions might come at a cost – such as not being able to enter your workplace or board a plane. Just as you have right to refuse, private businesses have right to refuse.

    Also, the...

    HIPAA prohibits health professionals, such as your doctor, from sharing your identified health information without your permission. Nonetheless, people/private businesses can always ask about your health information, and you can almost always decline to answer. But not answering health questions might come at a cost – such as not being able to enter your workplace or board a plane. Just as you have right to refuse, private businesses have right to refuse.

    Also, the EEOC concluded that employers generally can mandate that employees receive a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine (key note, generally— there should be reasonable accommodation for religious and/or medical reasons).

    Primary Sources:
    - https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws#J
    -https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/hipaa.html
    - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/vaccines/toolkits/FAQs-for-Employers_EW-Toolkit_508.pdf

  5. Joe1293

    What about AA, Southwest, United or the other U.S. Airlines
    Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant, Sun Country
    Or Alaska, JetBlue

  6. Megan

    @Phaedrus_BKK the key word is "force". Delta isn't forcing anyone. This is for new hires. If you don't want to get the vaccine, don't apply. It's not complicated.

  7. Phaedrus_BKK

    I know nothing about HIPAA ... but according to the Nuremberg Code, you cannot force anyone to take an experimental medication/vaccine against their wishes.

    Would Delta really want to be seen as violating this Kodex?

    It is too reminiscent of the Nazis.

  8. Mark in Sydney

    I live in a country where it’s illegal for its citizens to leave. It’s also illegal for our citizens to return home from certain destinations or face jail if they attempt to. No, not North Korea but Australia. So Delta’s requirement seems like common sense. I know some Americans feel aggrieved at the idea their civil liberties are being curtailed, but believe me, you’ve got it easy.
    That’s said, if you caught covid in...

    I live in a country where it’s illegal for its citizens to leave. It’s also illegal for our citizens to return home from certain destinations or face jail if they attempt to. No, not North Korea but Australia. So Delta’s requirement seems like common sense. I know some Americans feel aggrieved at the idea their civil liberties are being curtailed, but believe me, you’ve got it easy.
    That’s said, if you caught covid in Australia (which is statistically very hard as there are so few cases) you’ll be treated for free and won’t have to mortgage the house to pay for medical bills like in other countries.

  9. glenn t

    I would be most comfortable travelling on an airline where all on-board employees are vaccinated.
    If staff do not wish to be vaccinated, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes jobs they could do, like call center agents, finance and accounting, answering irate customer letters and emails, and for the truly perverse, dreaming up new ideas to 'enhance' their frequent flyer program. Something for everyone really.

  10. Morgan

    Agree great move from delta, and yes completely reasonable to say new hires have to be vaccinated, its the same as saying you can't have any facial or visible tattoos etc.

    Vaccines save lives.

  11. neil

    @Andrew: No states have implemented such laws yet. If you are aware of states that please correct this. in fact:
    Per recent federal employment law guidance, private employers can generally require employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as long as they comply with federal employment laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion and disability.

  12. Emily

    Excellent initiative. Get the COVID vaccine unless you want to be an idiot or unless you have a valid medical exception.

  13. Chris

    Is it just me or are the people crying how oppressive it is to say, "If you don't like it, don't work for Delta", the exact same people that said, "If you don't like it, you can leave the country" just a few short years ago about a myriad of things...

  14. Bobby

    It’s not a HIPAA violation. Again learn people

  15. Bobby

    RE: hiring

    Yes airlines are hiring. Please do research before posting broad comments

    RE: vaccinations. Tired of hearing how wonderful DL is. In any event, requiring new hire and not existing employees to be vaccinated just doesn’t sit well.

  16. Dru

    Delta is a global airline and it can no longer be a global airline if it doesn’t have staff that is able to fly to other countries that will eventually require visitors/employees show proof of vaccination. If Delta were 100% domestic then this wouldn’t be as big of an issue. But the rest of the world is going to require vaccines. You may question the ethic behind it now but you won’t when your flight...

    Delta is a global airline and it can no longer be a global airline if it doesn’t have staff that is able to fly to other countries that will eventually require visitors/employees show proof of vaccination. If Delta were 100% domestic then this wouldn’t be as big of an issue. But the rest of the world is going to require vaccines. You may question the ethic behind it now but you won’t when your flight has to be cancelled because they can’t get enough vaccinated crew members to fly to your international destination. People can complain all they want but when you fly into another country, you are agreeing to abide by the rules to be permitted in. And most other countries don’t care about “your freedoms” in the US when you are at immigration lines when they are deciding whether or not to let you in. And you better be sure people will be arrested and incarcerated in a foreign country when they found out you lied about being vaccinated.

  17. Mm

    Ben. Please. Delete. Mari’s. Non-scientific. Post.

  18. Andrew

    This openly violates laws of many states (including Florida) that forbids vaccine as hiring requirement. We'll see if the laws are going down well or not.

  19. Santastico

    @Ben Dover: you are a snowflake. Because of people that think like you is that we are in this mess. Don’t want to get a vaccine? Don’t work for Delta.

  20. AC

    I also love, as someone that was on the original AHA HIPAA advisory committee and responsible for implementing it at a nation wide hospital company, How many people don’t even know it is “HIPAA” (as in healthcare information portability and accountability act) as opposed to “HIPPA”. If you don’t even know the right name you lose any credibility.

  21. KEVIN

    I’m just here to read comments posted by people who don’t understand HIPAA. Lol. If you don’t actually understand it but posting as if you do makes you look…. And typically they will be the ones keeps on posting and replying which makes them look even more….

  22. beachmouse

    HIPPA has nothing to do with pre-employment health screening requirements- TB testing and drug screening have been standard parts of the onboarding process at many companies for decades. (And I personally find the drug screening a lot more offensive than a vaccine jab) As for Delta's hiring now, they were able to pretty much not lay anyone off by getting a whole bunch of people to take early retirement and other voluntary separation options.

    ...

    HIPPA has nothing to do with pre-employment health screening requirements- TB testing and drug screening have been standard parts of the onboarding process at many companies for decades. (And I personally find the drug screening a lot more offensive than a vaccine jab) As for Delta's hiring now, they were able to pretty much not lay anyone off by getting a whole bunch of people to take early retirement and other voluntary separation options.

    This has actually caused a huge problem for them because they lost a huge number of Customer Service reps, leading to their current worst in class phone service response times- plenty of stories of DMs getting told 4 hour hold times for 'priority' customer service and now they're scrambling to staff up again with a quicker than expected domestic leisure travel rebound.

  23. Megan

    I'm just here to see who would claim HIPAA violation first. They never actually know what HIPAA is but love to claim their rights are being trampled on.

  24. NK3

    I think that the 60% number that Delta quotes may seem low, but its actually better than expected, for a few factors. As @jetiquette points out, Delta has a large workforce in Atlanta, and Georgia's vaccination rates are among the lowest in the nation. Additionally, most (not all) of Delta's workforce is under the age of 60. Vaccination rates are much higher in the older age groups. So for a company headquartered in Georgia, not...

    I think that the 60% number that Delta quotes may seem low, but its actually better than expected, for a few factors. As @jetiquette points out, Delta has a large workforce in Atlanta, and Georgia's vaccination rates are among the lowest in the nation. Additionally, most (not all) of Delta's workforce is under the age of 60. Vaccination rates are much higher in the older age groups. So for a company headquartered in Georgia, not in the health care field, with most workers between the ages of 18-59, and many not having a bachelor's degree or higher in education, statistically, I would expect their vaccination rate to be much lower than the national average. I mean, I would not go around bragging about 60%, but statistically, based on the current trends in vaccination, its actually pretty good.

  25. tipsyinmadras

    @Another Lump
    1) You have no idea what HIPAA is, Delta isn't a healthcare provider, it doesn't apply
    2) Everyone who doesn't get vaccinated and consequently gets infected creates an opportunity for a virus mutation which could make antibodies created by the vaccines less effective. So deciding not to get vaccinated absolutely impacts folks who are.

  26. Pete

    My employer is requiring us to disclose our COVID vaccination status as a condition of compliance with policy. You don't even have to get it - your choices are:

    - Disclose you got it and share the copy of the card,
    - Say you don't have it and sign a form that says you acknowledge the risks

  27. Ben Dover

    Evan, I respectfully disagree.

  28. Stephen Dedalus

    As others have mentioned, HIPAA only applies to covered healthcare entities, and does not cover all healthcare information. There are likely no HIPAA implications with Delta's policy. Equal Protection laws only apply to government actions, not corporations like Delta. There are likely some ADA implications for these types of policies, but obviously Delta will take these into consideration. My understanding is that the ovwehelming consensus is that mandating Covid vaccines for employees is legal, provided...

    As others have mentioned, HIPAA only applies to covered healthcare entities, and does not cover all healthcare information. There are likely no HIPAA implications with Delta's policy. Equal Protection laws only apply to government actions, not corporations like Delta. There are likely some ADA implications for these types of policies, but obviously Delta will take these into consideration. My understanding is that the ovwehelming consensus is that mandating Covid vaccines for employees is legal, provided that ADA and religious accomodations are considered. Regardless, most employers aren't mandadting vaccines but rather encouraging them, which seems more than reasonable to me.

  29. Chris

    @CRAIG - Exactly. People only want government to stay out of things when everyone is doing what they want. Once a company starts requiring employees to get a vaccine that they don't agree with, they're the first to run to the government to stop it.

  30. CRAIG

    People complain that government shouldn't tell businesses what they can and cannot do. So businesses do something they don't like and want the government (and by extension the courts) to tell businesses to not do something they want to do. Delta is a large corporation involving moving alot of people around in confined spaces. So it stands to reason that they would support this given the marginal costs are relatively low, quite possibly a one...

    People complain that government shouldn't tell businesses what they can and cannot do. So businesses do something they don't like and want the government (and by extension the courts) to tell businesses to not do something they want to do. Delta is a large corporation involving moving alot of people around in confined spaces. So it stands to reason that they would support this given the marginal costs are relatively low, quite possibly a one time event, and is a marketable benefit. For the vast majority, we have moved beyond any rational argument about getting or not getting the vaccine.

  31. DMNYC

    Also, everyone, vaccination status is not a protected class.

  32. DMNYC

    @Another Lump HIPAA has to do with what information can be shared between entities like employers and HCPs...it has absolutely nothing to do with what an employer can or cannot require. Literally, as the name makes explicit, the "portability" of health information. HIPAA is not a law that says "everything to do with my healthcare is exclusively for my personal knowledge unless I let other people know." That's just not the law.

  33. Evan

    @Ben

    Your analogy doesn't make sense. An individual has a CHOICE to apply to Delta. The rule does not apply to current employees. Where we've been before is people claiming every rule being made by a company or government agency is an infringement of rights.

  34. Mari

    Wow, crazy....several Universities in Japan have discovered that 5-ALA in foods stop coronavirus 100%, it's found in Fermented Soy Beans, and Black Bean Vinegar, and even in Red Wine and so does green tea....and you want inject Gene therapy into your body? No way, I prefer foods that are good for my body.

  35. Another Lump

    @Chris
    Maybe spell HIPAA correctly before you claim you understand it better than others. Also tell me how the entire concept of herd immunity impacts you at all if you are vaccinated, and you are pro-science and believe in vaccines. Since you care so much about the health of others, perhaps we should force all obese people to lose weight or go to prison...since obesity is a key risk factor, and since you are...

    @Chris
    Maybe spell HIPAA correctly before you claim you understand it better than others. Also tell me how the entire concept of herd immunity impacts you at all if you are vaccinated, and you are pro-science and believe in vaccines. Since you care so much about the health of others, perhaps we should force all obese people to lose weight or go to prison...since obesity is a key risk factor, and since you are so altruistic, you would be in favor of that right? Since other people's choices somehow impact you, then it's ok? Or maybe just protect yourself and let other people worry about themselves.

  36. David

    @Not Lucky
    They better not tell their employees what is and isn't appropriate to say or do while they're working, that would truly be done Nazi level stuff!

  37. Gold

    Hey I have a great idea, why don’t people start trusting that the vaccine actually works! Maybe just maybe if the vaccinated actually trusted that vaccine and it’s efficacy those who haven’t would feel more compelled to get it…

  38. JB

    @jettiquite - While Atlanta is the headquarters for the airline, overall, it doesn't house the majority of the airlines workers since the airline is so big, so a majority of Delta's employees aren't based there. So in this case you can't do the Georgia vaccinated percentage individually, but have to look at the national vaccinated population percentage (or do the % vaccinated out of each base for the airline in comparison to the regular state's population %)

  39. Chris

    @Not Lucky - I’ve heard the also require their pilots to not drink alcohol while working. The horror they put these employees through is amazing.

  40. Not Lucky

    Yeah. This is totally equivalent to the Nazis. Did you know that Delta also mandates wearing a uniform and clothes in general? And you're required to show up at certain times, even if you don't like waking up in the morning. They ask their pilots to have good eyesight. How intrusive of them to ask people to do things that contribute to the safety of others. Very strange thought process for an airline.

    Lord there are some truly special people in this world.

  41. gertie

    Maybe , Delta should try harder to get its workers , vaccinated, anyway , they should have to wear a badge, large , showing I,ve been vaccinated, then you can request that you be served by a flight attendant, that has been, I,m sure that it may make others that haven't think i should, or i,m not as dont have to do much work, Its a bit like when kids have been to the dentist , they get a sticker, or in fact have a jab,

  42. Chris

    @Another Lump - Tell me you don’t understand HIPPA without telling me you don’t understand HIPPA. Also tell me you don’t understand how vaccines work toward herd immunity. And finally tell me you don’t understand how herd immunity works.

  43. Juan

    It's not too surprising Delta is already at 60% of their workforce with one dose. The current US average is now around 58% according to the CDC (18 and older), so they're only 2 points above that. Plus, when you get into larger metro areas, the vaccination rates are much larger. Given their presence in places like Atlanta, New York, and LA, it's not that surprising that it's a few points higher than the national average.

  44. Justin

    @Kevin you really like full government control I'm assuming? Please move to a country that already controls their citizens and not try to bring that ridiculous ideology here.

  45. Another Lump

    So I guess HIPAA federal laws can just be ignored now? And what about equal protection? How can you legally justify requiring new hires but not existing hires? This just seems like a way to discriminate in hiring based on political views. I expect lawsuits.

    If you're vaccinated, FFS move on with your life, others' covid vaccination status doesn't pose a significant risk to you, certainly no more than any other real world risks....

    So I guess HIPAA federal laws can just be ignored now? And what about equal protection? How can you legally justify requiring new hires but not existing hires? This just seems like a way to discriminate in hiring based on political views. I expect lawsuits.

    If you're vaccinated, FFS move on with your life, others' covid vaccination status doesn't pose a significant risk to you, certainly no more than any other real world risks. I don't get this obsession with forcing other people to wear masks or get vaccinated if you are already protected. Isn't not believing in the effectiveness of vaccines, taking actions that have no benefit at all, or not understanding the statistics and actual risks, considered "anti-science"?

  46. jetiquette

    Delta's home state of Georgia is only 36% vaccinated so I think 60% is something to brag about since the majority of their employees are in Georgia.

  47. Gold

    @Brian - we’re going to find soon. To require a pharmaceutical that hasn’t been fully approved is only inviting lawsuits

  48. Kevin

    I fully support this decision.

    And I’ll even go one step further. I even would support a vaccination passport for the entire American population. No one is forced to be vaccinated, that would be intrusive. But without a passport, there are consequences. Don’t let anyone into a business or public space without their passport.

  49. Gold

    If you don’t want to get vaccinated, you could always sTaRt YoUr OwN aIrLiNe durrr

  50. Ben Dover

    Evan, sure it's not intrusive at all. If you're Jewish, just move out of Germany. We've been here before. Different scale of impact (perhaps, but maybe right now we're in 1934 not 1942) but exactly the same dynamic.

  51. Evan

    @Ben -

    I don't think it's at all intrusive. If you don't want to get vaccinated, don't apply to Delta. It's not required for existing employees. Also, if Delta's % is in line with the general population, I consider that a win because as someone said, the southern states have some of the lowest vaccination rates.

  52. Icarus

    Airlines are laying off staff and not taking on anyone so what new hires . Anyhow a business has the right to ask for this, unless they have a medical reason.

  53. Eskimo

    Yes 60% is underwhelming for an airline to brag about.

    Consider there is no breakdown, majority of those 60% might not be customer facing roles at all. Which makes this number far exaggerated.

    Still long way before trying brag like Etihad or El Al on vaccinating roles that matter the most.

  54. Sharon

    This is great news.

    Delta is an industry leader and this is great to protect their people's health. It is especially important since Delta has so many employees in the south which has one of the lowest vaccine rates.

    Science is real, vaccines work and they save lives.

Featured Comments Load all 59 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Aaron

To all of you who say "if you don't want to get vaccinated, don't work for Delta". Take your advice and then "don't fly Delta if you know 100% of the employees aren't vaccinated ". It's hypocritical.

Becky

This is madness and will not be flying Delta again!!! People saying don't apply for a position with Delta if you don't agree. Pilots come out of college with upwards of $75,000 of extra cost on their tuition. If they don't comply they never have a chance of working for their dream company. The above comment about not being able to have facial hair or a tattoo! Did you really just make that comparison between facial hair and an experimental NOT FDA approved shot! There is NO proof that this shot is safe and effective.

Don Wilson

First and foremost the COVID-19 vaccine has only been approved for emergency use only. None of the pharmaceutical companies are responsible for any complications and or death related to taking said vaccine. Furthermore, you cannot be forced to take a vaccine that has not been officially approved by the FDA. Finally, since these COVID-19 vaccines have not been properly tested (i.e., animal and human trials were minimally tested). So, in the end everyone who takes the vaccine becomes part of the human testing, yes that is correct you are a guinea pig.

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