Tyson Foods to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all US employees

Tyson's corporate employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1 while all other team members will be required to be fully inoculated by Nov. 1

Tyson Foods is mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for its entire U.S. workforce in an effort to protect against the spread of the delta variant.

The food giant will require employees at its U.S. office locations to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1 and all other team members by Nov. 1. Tyson leadership will be required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 24 and new hires will be required to be fully vaccinated prior to their start date.

"It is abundantly clear that getting vaccinated is the single most effective thing we can do to protect ourselves, our families and our communities," Tyson Foods president and CEO Donnie King said in a memo to employees. "We take this step today because nothing is more important than our team members’ health and safety, and we thank them for the work they do, every day, to help us feed this country, and our world."

The company says it will make exceptions to the vaccination mandate for workers who seek a medical or religious accommodation.

COVID-19 VACCINE: MAJOR COMPANIES REQUIRING EMPLOYEES BE FULLY INOCULATED

According to Tyson, over 56,000 U.S. employees, or nearly half of its workforce, have already been vaccinated and COVID-19 infection rates among its team members "remain low." 

The company noted that more than $700 million has been spent to date related to combatting COVID-19, including buying masks, face shields and temperature scanners, installing protective barriers and providing on-site testing and vaccinations. The company has also partnered with a medical provider for on-site services, hired an additional 200 nurses, and its first chief medical officer. 

In addition to its current policy that compensates workers with up to four hours of extra pay for inoculations from an external medical provider outside of their normal shifts, Tyson says it will provide $200 to its frontline team members to get vaccinated.

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As of July 27, at least 132 meatpacking workers and 67 food processing workers have died contracting COVID-19, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents approximately 1.3 million food and retail employees.

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Tyson is the latest to require employee vaccinations, following similar moves by major companies including Equinox Group, Walmart, Disney, Facebook, Google and Uber